One of the region’s most prolific independent commercial property developers is ramping up his investment in Suffolk.
Peter Colby, of Peter Colby Commercials, is planning to increase the size of Three Rivers Business Park on Felixstowe Road in Ipswich, an investment he bought three years ago. This will add a further 8,000 sq ft to the existing 26,000 sq ft.
The Norwich-based entrepreneur, who has business interests across East Anglia, north London and Manchester, is investing in what he believes will be a boom time for the county in coming years.
It’s just one of a number of developments that he has undertaken recently, including the development of huge warehouse for Amazon in Norwich.
Development at Three Rivers is aimed at servicing the growing trade with the rest of the world that he believes will follow the UK’s departure from the EU in March 2019.
He said: “As trade from outside of Europe grows, so will demand for office, warehouse, distribution centres and such close to the Port of Felixstowe. I believe we will see unprecedented growth in and around the A14 and A12.”
He has plans underway for Lion Barn Business Park at Needham Market, doubling the acreage under development and for the 26 acre Beccles Business Park, which he bought 10 years ago.
He said: “Business has to have the ability to grow. This is the only way that we can continue to have full employment and have people do meaningful work.
“We need to create space of all kinds, shapes and sizes. Places where embryo businesses can start up, where expanding businesses can grow and flourish. This is where jobs will come from in the future.”
He is critical of what he believes is a narrow attitude to business growth within local and national government. He bemoans the fact that the planning process moves at a glacial pace and the costs of infrastructure stifle growth in so many cases.
He said: “We need to take a more far sighted view of development. In effect, we just need to get on with things. Locally, as in much of the country, there has been very little development in recent years. And to make things worse, many buildings that could have been put to good use have been demolished.”
Peter Colby Commercial’s speciality is in challenging and problem zones. One such example locally is the 13 acres at Harris Business Park on Hadleigh Road in Ipswich. The contamination of the land needed to be remedied, roads needed to be built and services installed. His business, which employs around 280, has taken the initiative in such situations, where others have not.
Peter Colby has high hopes following Brexit. He believes that the UK has the opportunity to dig in and rebuild its economy based on home grown talents in engineering and research.
“As a country we are more than able to find new markets and new solutions. This is the way that this country has always done business. I believe Brexit will bring out the best in us.”
Peter Colby himself is not short on ambition. A self-made man, he is the son of a Lowestoft fishing skipper. His business interests, that also encompass transport and engineering, are entirely self-financing.
His company, St Vincent Holdings, is named not for some faraway Caribbean island, but for a training ship, where through sheer determination he climbed a 200 ft mast.
That he says was a defining moment in his life, and he’s continued to reference it throughout his five decades in business.