Skylights the limit for Bury St Edmunds manufacturer

Justin Seldis and James Boughton from Sunsquare, who make skylights.
Justin Seldis and James Boughton from Sunsquare, who make skylights.

The managing director of a manufacturing firm which is to expand has criticised council bureaucracy saying it has cost his business.

Sunsquare which specialises in the manufacture and installation of walk on skylights, is to move from Barton Road Industrial Estate in Bury St Edmunds to a site almost three times as big, at Kempson Way.

But Sunsquare MD Justin Seldis said he has had to wait six months for planning permission – at one stage he and founder James Boughton considered quiting Bury,

“We have been trading for nine years. James and I are both Bury boys.

“We were not helped by planning. We had to go to the Department for Trade and Industry to gee things along.

“The delay has been detrimental to our growth. I could have added another five per cent to our growth – we’re inaundated.

“The whole thing has been a bloody nightmare. It is absurd,” Mr Seldis said.

While the building trade has been suffering, Sunsquare has seen business grow 30 per cent in the last year.

In one week this month alone it took on the same level of sales as the whole of February last year.

Its work includes skylights at the most expensive private residence in Fifth Avenue in New York and at the Palace of Westminster.

It now employs 30 people and has a turnover of £3m.

“We have got a good product. We are British designed, British made, a British success story,” said Mr Seldis.

“In two to three years we will probably employ another 10 to 20 people and be heading for a £5m turnover which would make us market leader.”

A council spokesman said: “The application was for an industrial use on the Suffolk Business Park which went against St Edmundsbury’s planning policy and initially there was not enough evidence about why we should go against it. Every application is decided on its own merits, and we worked hard with the applicant’s agent to establish the evidence which would enable planning officers to recommend to councillors that going against our policy was appropriate in this case. Working on the missing evidence was time consuming, but has resulted in a positive decision for the applicant.”