Concerns raised over new business hub developers

A question has been raised about the firm behind a multi-million pound scheme to build a new business park on the edge of Norwich and its relationship with Norfolk County Council as it emerged that public funds were used to pay for some of the developer's planning costs.

Developers Ifield Estates Ltd are working with County Hall on the scheme which would see a new business park, Broadland Gate, built close to the A47 at Postwick.

Broadland District Council, whose planning committee was expected to consider both the Broadland Gate and Lothbury Trust applications this month, after a High Court judge overturned the original Broadland Gate decision, yesterday confirmed they were likely to be considered in August because the legal judgment had not yet been issued.

Transport campaigner and Green Norwich city councillor Denise Carlo asked the county council's ruling cabinet on Monday to give more details of the firm after viewing Companies House records.

'Ifield Estates company balance sheets shows no turnover and negative assets. The company, which has two directors, has no track record in development schemes,' she said. 'What evidence does the county council have to show that Ifield Estates is a viable company which can deliver the proposed business park and will the county council put into the public domain all papers relating to the arrangements between Norfolk County Council and Ifield?'

However an Ifield Estate spokesman said the team 'comprises directors with more than 50 years of property development experience between them and have been responsible for, or closely involved in, numerous business park schemes throughout the UK'.

'The financial arrangements between Ifield and Norfolk County Council remain entirely transparent, where Ifield have met all costs relating to their business park proposals,' he added.

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Green county councillor Andrew Boswell also asked the authority to itemise all payments it made to its consultants Mott MacDonald in connection with the Broadland Gate planning application

Graham Plant, cabinet member for planning and transportation said that with the exception of the Environmental statement, which was completed for the while development, work carried out by the authority was mostly to deliver the highway elements of the Postwick Hub scheme.

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