The Stafford Park project is located along two sides of the River Stour approximately one mile west of Long Melford and on the county boundary between Essex and Suffolk. The Stour Valley is well known as the birthplace and favourite landscape subject for the painters Gainsborough and Constable, and is designated an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty.
The challenges for this property therefore are both sensitive and immense, for within the site lies both a large factory complex and a Licenced Landfill Site. For this reason a means to regenerate and rehabilitate the site must be approached with caution and any proposed scheme must take into account not just the visual landscape but also a vast range of issues, environmental, social and economic.
The developers have amassed enormous experience in the past through not only the renewal and redevelopment of industrial buildings and complexes but also the rehabilitation of land and soils.
The property at Stafford Park had a long history of food flavour manufacturing based mainly on local agricultural produce, however during the course of the last 100 years products as diverse as perfumes, chemicals and even DDT have been manufactured within the complex. For this reason, on taking occupation of the site at Stafford Park, the developers, RPDC Ltd, set about collating all the environmental data held by its previous owners. The main area of concern was the North Site which was historically, and until recently, used as a landfill.
The developers having devised a ‘model’ of the materials within that area, then set about physical trials of remediation methods.
Although large amounts of assorted bottles, drums, metals and asbestos were found, it became apparent that a large quantity of the contaminated area could be treated using a certain strain of bacteria. There is now therefore a remediation strategy in place based on these trials, while continual monitoring of the site prevails.
The manufacturing area although providing less concern from an environmental perspective, will nevertheless have to be the subject of overall rehabilitation since this was the area where the waste originated. The large range of warehouse buildings also present a challenge with acres of asbestos roofing to be removed and confined to sealed permanent storage.
Naturally, due to its location next to the River Stour, the site represents a concern with regard to flooding. RPDC Ltd have however initiated the development of a flood model which has been used to simulate relative flood conditions. This has usefully been put to the test in that with certain preparatory work carried out, the site has safely managed severe flood conditions in the recent past. The goal however is to reach a risk value of 1:1000year flood event.
In order to create a resolution to all these issues, the developers have devised a masterplan creating a ‘mixed use’ development which will not only resolve these constraints but also open up the riverside to local community use – probably for the first time for several generations. The redevelopment scheme will simply overlay the existing industrial development area so established trees, vegetation and habitat will not be impacted upon.
The developers consider that the thought process and ethos as outlined above gives the site its best opportunity for over a century to be assimilated within the landscape and provide lasting benefit and pleasure to its occupiers and the wider community.