Council will borrow £7.5 million for new A120 business park

Main image: Uttlesford District Council; Inset: Sign for the Banana Depot in Little Canfield, Essex

UDC has agreed to stump up £7.5 million for a new Little Canfield Business Park - Credit: Google Earth/Archant

An Essex council will borrow millions of pounds from local authorities across the UK to build a new A120 business park.

Uttlesford District Council said spending £7.5 million on Little Canfield Business Park will provide business opportunities.

But members from UDC opposition groups have raised concerns about a lack of green features on the site given the size of the investment.

Money has been allocated from the council's £300m commercial fund, but most of the cash will be borrowed from other councils.

Supporting the business park, Councillor Neil Reeve said at a meeting yesterday (October 6): "This proposal gives excellent opportunity for the regeneration of Uttlesford business."

However, Liberal Democrat group leader Melvin Caton asked if some of the investment could go towards renewable energy sources such as solar panels or a wind turbine.

He said: "It is the biggest investment this council is going to make - and we are supposedly wanting to become carbon neutral - and yet we haven't seen how we can maximise the environmental capacity of this site to actually mitigate some of the climate change impacts on the residents."

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Cllr Reeve responded saying the council did have green credentials, such as green vehicle washdown, recycling and solar facilities at a proposed council workshop on site.

However, the meeting heard that the main unit - the former banana depot - is not physically strong enough to bear the load.

A sign to the former banana depot in Little Canfield, near Takeley

The former banana depot in Little Canfield will be turned into a business park under council plans - Credit: Google Earth

A total £6 million will be borrowed from other authorities at an interest rate of 0.3%, while £1.5 million would come from a 40-year fixed-payment loan with a 2.86% interest rate.

Rent in the park is expected to be in be around £425,000 per year, depending on the number and type of tenants.

The scheme attracted criticism from Cllr Caton when the cabinet originally proposed the £7.5 million spend in July.

He said: "My one reservation about the park is that it won't be a park - It is likely to be one tenant.

"I would prefer a range of businesses, but in any case, we must look at the employment benefits."