BREAKING: Bitter blow for Sudbury as Delphi Diesel Systems announces intention to sell site to housing developer
Sudbury has been dealt a bitter blow, after a major employer's shock announcement that it intends to sell its factory to a property developer, despite past assurances it wanted the site to stay in industrial use.
Delphi Diesel Systems has revealed plans to sell its plant in Newton Road, which it is closing down and vacating in 2020, to Charterhouse Property Group, according to a letter received on Thursday morning by South Suffolk MP James Cartlidge.
It is understood that Charterhouse has expressed its intention to clear the site to allow for remedial works after Delphi has left, indicating hundreds of people currently employed at the facility could lose their jobs permanently.
This comes just days after a report into the site, commissioned by the South Suffolk Taskforce, concluded a commercial-led development would be more viable than a residential scheme, as well as the launch of the draft Babergh Local Plan, in which there is no provision for the land to be redeveloped.
Mr Cartlidge, who also chairs the taskforce, voiced his shock in the Houses of Parliament yesterday, stating the letter had come after an extend period of almost no communication from Delphi management about the process to sell the site.
The MP urged Babergh District Council's planning committee to reject any application for a residential development on the site, arguing it was vital for it to remain as employment land.
He said: "In short, the site will be bulldozed and every job lost. That is the position as of today.
"This is a company that is not engaged — that has basically shown a blank face to us in recent months — and then, on concluding that it is going to sell the site for property development, entirely residential, has realised that it needs the support of the stakeholders on my taskforce, most notably the planning committee. I find this quite extraordinary.
"My position is, first, that our planning authority should stand firm.
"If a planning application comes in, it should reject it as being out of policy and say that this site should remain for jobs and employment because it is absolutely key to our local economy.
"I say both to Delphi and to the property development company that were their application to be rejected, and they appealed, I would have no hesitation in asking for it to be called in by the Secretary of State.
"When we have an employment site with brilliant staff, we should be looking to maximise the potential for the local economy, rather than selling to the highest bidder and leaving the site vacant for years, as we go through the courts with applications for commercial and residential development."