What is happening at Suffolk Park?

The following is an excerpt from Jonathan Lloyd’s presentation on Suffolk Park to The Suffolk Chamber of Commerce, 6th July 2018.

What is Suffolk Park?

Suffolk Park is an area of land of approximately 114 acres adjacent to the established Moreton Hall Employment Area two miles east of the town centre. Moreton Hall is the town’s premier business and out of town retail business district and is the location which has seen most of the business expansion for the town in the last few decades. Suffolk Park business park is in its infancy, offering the opportunity for businesses to expand or relocate to the town. It’s where new buildings are currently being erected, land being sold to owner occupiers and opportunities for businesses to have premises built for them.

The site was originally agricultural land until the second world war when it was acquired by the military and incorporated into a United States Air Force 47th, 94th and 322nd bomber groups. After the war it was returned to the original landowners Orttewell who instructed George Hazell to sell the land some decades ago. Taylor Wimpey purchased the land and its continued use remained agricultural up until very recently.

The local planning authority recognised that Bury St Edmunds was short of development land and under the new local plan, Bury St Edmunds Vision 2031, the Council have made appropriate allocation for business growth in the town. This incorporates the land owned by Taylor Wimpey and an adjoining landowner. As part of the local plan the Council  a Relief Road to be constructed between Moreton Hall and Junction 45 of the A14 and provision of a new secondary school. Completed September 2017, this road enabled Suffolk Park to take the next step forward. It is also important to mention that through New Anglia LEP, part of Suffolk Park was granted Enterprise Zone status across approximately 37 acres. This means that occupiers will benefit from rates relief up to £55,000 per year over a five-year period, fast track planning process and super-fast broadband connectivity.


Appointment of a Developer

Taylor Wimpey own the land but they primarily build houses and are not set up to develop commercial land. It is not their field of expertise and it does require specialist knowledge and understanding. So before the Relief Road was constructed they entered into terms with Jaynic to act as the development partner for the scheme. It is Jaynic that have been driving the scheme ever since.

Jaynic in turn appointed agents such as Hazells and other professionals including architects, quantity surveyors, planning and marketing consultants. Their task is to transform agricultural land into a business and logistics park. The site only has an allocation in the local plan for B1 & B8 Use. Jaynic manged to make quick progress and successfully obtained outline planning consent for up to two million sq ft. Treatt acquired ten acres to build their headquarters site for over 200,000 sq ft. This land was sold at approximately £3.5 million and construction is due to start later this year. The land sale helped with cash flow for the developer and allowed them to fund the next stage of of the project, building the estate road which was completed September 2017 and named Fortress Way.


Development & Place Making

A great deal of thought has been given to what can be described as place making, or put more colloquially, what goes where? Whats going to be built? What does the market want?

The site location is good, however it cannot move closer to the M25 or indeed Cambridge. Bury St Edmunds has a distinctly different market place to Cambridge and it is unlikely that the town will attract the type of companies that want to be in Cambridge with their biotech and science park strengths. The planning authority allocated the site for employment use and it has outline planning consent for B1 & B8 uses. This will include offices, light industrial/factory and warehouse/distribution use. Planning is important it adds value but if it is to prescriptive or narrow it can also take it away. It would be wise to explore other potential uses based on market demand, this may include showrooms, child nurseries, places to eat and meet etc. Occupiers want and expect amenity facilities on-site and having those facilities will only help attract new, or retain existing occupiers for the town.

The amount of power allocated to the Park is currently 15.5 MVA. This should be more than enough to cope with usual demand, however, if we were to attract a data centre, with banks of hi-tech computers then this would require all of this supply and more. This could potentially be made available but at a cost which would not be insignificant.

The maximum height of buildings is currently restricted to 21 m (70 ft). This should be enough although we have had to turn away interest from a manufacturer who required parts of their premises to be over 40m, and a storage company requiring 35m. The two units of 206,000 sq ft and 147,000 sq ft being built speculatively, have an eaves height of 12.5 m. This can be increased within the height restriction, subject to requirements of the end user.

Development will be market led. The logistics market is currently very strong and has been for several years with the tremendous growth in internet sales, generally at the expense of the High St. Hazells believes this market will continue to grow and that demand for distribution warehouses will increase. This has been taken into consideration when planning the majority of uses outside of the enterprise zone. However, there is flexibility, and alternative uses will be considered.

Space planning within the Enterprise Zone has been envisaged to consist of smaller workshops, an office campus, innovation centre and other sui generis uses that respond to both market demand and will also contribute towards creating an attractive business park which is a pleasure to work within and support businesses.


The Enterprise Zone

It has been proposed that two service roads will be constructed, which will open up the 37 acres. Treatt will be situated within the southwest corner and their ten acres give a sense of scale. Their building is around 200,000 sq ft. The plots laid out in the plan are only indicative and can be changed subject to requirements on application.

In plots 800, 900 and 1000 there is currently consideration for a scheme for speculative development of small industrial units. This is only at the initial stages but envisaged that in the future small freehold industrial units can be offered for sale or to let. please refer to the gallery for examples of proposed layouts.

A Schematic of Enterprise Zone

Figure 2 – Proposed layout of Enterprise Zone

In the northeast corner opposite the fitness centre and school, proposals for an innovation centre are being put forward. This will aim to provide serviced offices to start up and emerging businesses, fitting in well with an office campus and other similar quasi office uses. The office market is not that strong at the moment and a growth in rents would be needed to make speculative building more attractive. It would be beneficial to see building costs reduce to make development, particularly for small schemes, more affordable. Generally the larger the buildings the greater the savings in an economy  of scale.

In the northwest corner, it is intended that more bespoke commercial units would be built. These would be led by market demand, requiring excellent frontage to a busy road and close to residential areas, schools and other commercial uses. The expectation is, these will form an attractive gateway into the Park and provide a balance of uses that support the developments that are proposed for the rest of the Park.


The Logistics Park

The logistics park is the remainder of the development left outside of the Enterprise Zone. Very recently, in the past couple of months, just over 7 acres of land has been sold to Sealey – Sealey have three very large distribution and office complexes around Kempson Way which comprise of just under half a million sq ft. They considered Suffolk Park to be a natural extension for their future plans for expansion.

As previously mentioned, Hazells have high expectations of the large shed market. With around 70 acres remaining in this part of the park, there have been several indicative plans drawn up to give potential occupiers an idea of what could be developed. There are units from 50,000 to 750,000 sq ft that can be built to the specification of the end user. Eventually the Logistics Park may look like one of the options picture in the gallery below. Units can be built at any size up to around 750,000 sq ft.

What is not indicative are the two units SP 206 and SP 147. Planning consent was obtained 6th February this year, Hazells in partnership with Jaynic went to tender in March, Readie Construction were appointed and were on site in May. Both units are now under construction and will be ready for occupation in November. If you wish to follow the progress of these units, there is a Webcam set up that is taking a time lapse of the construction. These sheds comprise 147,000 sq ft and 206,000 sq ft with approximately 2.5% office content and a clear eaves height of 12.5m. They are being built entirely speculatively and to a target Building Research Establishment Environmental Assessment Method (BREEAM) rating of Excellent. Hazells are currently looking for tenants or indeed potential buyers. We are not quoting an asking price but in terms of rent we do need a sale-able lease so that the investment can then be sold. Short term tenancies are less exciting, covenant strength is important and the envisaged rent is likely to be in the region of £5.95 per sq ft.

What Suffolk Park means to Bury St Edmunds

Suffolk Park is a great opportunity for Bury St Edmunds. Bury is a growing town with over 5,000 due to be delivered in the coming years, with many more smaller residential developments taking place in the surrounding settlements. The demand for jobs and with it, commercial premises, will continue to grow, and Suffolk Park seeks to meet that demand. Suffolk Park offers the opportunity for local businesses to move into new, built-to-suit, premises, and indeed, expand. Offering greater employment opportunities and economic growth within Bury St Edmunds, and surrounding Suffolk Area.


For updates, and for further information:

Suffolk Park