Promise of 500 jobs sways voting in favour of Prolog

FANTASY LAND: Councillor Peter Clifford and Stephen Thorpe, from the Sudbury Society, on the site earmarked for the Prolog development.
FANTASY LAND: Councillor Peter Clifford and Stephen Thorpe, from the Sudbury Society, on the site earmarked for the Prolog development.
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Prolog’s ambitions to expand in Sudbury remain intact after plans to build two warehouses – potentially creating 500 jobs – were approved once more.

The £50million development, which also includes building two offices on a 26,385 square metre site in Church Field Road, Chilton, had previously been given the go ahead in May last year but was brought back before a planning committee due to a series of revisions.

Peter Clifford, chairman of Chilton Parish Council, said the amendments made by the company cast serious doubts on the delivery of jobs.

“Given the current ‘take it or leave it’ conditions, we believe the likely creation of 500 jobs to be complete fantasy,” he told Babergh District Council’s development committee on Wednesday.

“These conditions have been so watered down in favour of the applicant the council believes that this exercise is based purely on a speculative attempt to gain planning permission on a valuable site for resale.”

Lady Valerie Hart, owner of the Grade II listed Chilton Hall that neighbours the site, said the plans would harm the historic building and the Grade I listed St Mary’s Church, which would be around 100 metres away. She also threatened a legal challenge if they were granted permission.

“There has to be convincing evidence the harm is necessary and this is not the case,” said Lady Hart. “There are no public benefits as there is no guarantee of any jobs.”

Robert Audley, chairman of Prolog, which already employs 430 people at offices in Milner Road, said he had been made to feel like a “villainous chancer”.

“We are a real company and we create real jobs,” he said.

“We have created most in the East Midlands but all we want is the opportunity to create some here.”

Sudbury mayor Adrian Osborne said although it was a hard decision, the plans would benefit the town economically.

After two hours of discussions, members voted 12 to two in favour of the development.