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Town councillors back Project site redevelopment

Wednesday, 13th April 2011.

Haverhill Town Councillors agreed last night to give unanimous support to the new plans for shops and business units on the former Project site.

HPG Developments from Cambridge have applied to St Edmundsbury Borough Council for planning permission for the site for the second time, having been refused last year, when town councillors objected to it.

The proposals are similar this time, although instead of four stores, there are two larger ones and one smaller one, and nine trade warehouses.

The key pillars of the development, a builders' merchants for Wickes, a drive-thru restaurant intended for McDonalds and 11 start-up business units, remain as before.

William Jewson of HPG told members of Haverhill Town Council planning committee, who submit their view to the borough planners as part of the decision-making process, the company had bought the site for 1.5million in 2008.

With planning permission in place it would be worth 3million, but he assured Cllr Maureen Byrne HPG would go through with the development and not sell it on to make a quick profit.

He said HPG managed their own sites so would make sure tenants behaved themselves.

McDonalds were not legally committed to the site yet, but he was 90 per cent sure they would come, and HPG would be keen that any issues about the restaurant were properly managed.

Councillors wanted him to agree to impose the proposed opening hours of 7am to 11pm all week for the future, but he said that was not possible and if the operator wanted to extend the hours they would have to go through the planning process as KFC have recently done.

Mr Jewson said he was 'reasonably certain' of the occupiers for the two larger stores, hich will be limited to retailers who would not compete directly with the town's high street.

Councillors were most swayed by the 250 jobs the development is estimated to bring, but they wanted some assurance these would not be foreigners shipped in from outside, as had happened at another large employer which located in Haverhill recently.

"The town needs 250 new jobs," said Cllr Byrne. "Cutbacks are hitting the most vulnerable in our town and I think 250 jobs would reaally boost the low morale there is in some areas of Haverhill."

Cllr Margaret Marks said she had supported the proposal last time and was 'delighted' to support it again, but she stressed the jobs should be for local people.

Cllr Byrne said unscrupulous employers were using gangmasters to bring in overseas workers who were being exploited and housed in very poor conditions.

"We are concerned for that group of people, bot for their sake and because it doesn't do any good to our economy," she said.

Rob Shrimplin of Martin Robeson Planning Partnership who are handling the plans for HPG said the previous proposals had been refuised on three grounds, and they thought these had now been addressed.

The first was the effect on the high street which had been dealt with by the limitation on the occupiers of the stores.

Secondly other sites in the town had not been explored, but this had now been done to the satisfaction of the council, and this was the only one available which the retailers would be prepared to locate to.

The third concerned a blanket objection by Anglian Water, which was now the subject of negotiation.

Mr Jewson said he hoped the site would be trading by Christmas 2012 if planning permission went ahead soon.

After councillors had agreed their support, Phil Brogan, communications manager for Martin Robeson Planning Partnership said they were really pleased the town council had supported the plans.

After the previous refusal they had been much encouraged to try again by the level of public support for them shown through letters in newspapers, comments on Haverhill-UK website and various other messages.

Haverhill Online News

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