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Farming suppliers target village for new base - but face fierce opposition

PUBLISHED: 17:30 08 October 2018 | UPDATED: 17:30 08 October 2018

Ben Turner of Ben Burgess. Picture: Chris Hill.

Ben Turner of Ben Burgess. Picture: Chris Hill.

Archant

One of the region’s largest suppliers of farming equipment has set its sights on a south Norfolk village for a new headquarters.

Leader of South Norfolk Council John Fuller. Picture: ArchantLeader of South Norfolk Council John Fuller. Picture: Archant

Ben Burgess Ltd has identified a site on the edge of Swainsthorpe to provide a new base, having outgrown its current base in Trowse.

It would see a showroom, workshops, offices and parking space for more than 300 vehicles built on 11 hectares of agricultural land west of Ipswich Road.

However, the proposal has attracted fierce opposition from nearby villagers, who claim 95pc of people in the village oppose the scheme.

Campaigners voiced their concerns at a special meeting of South Norfolk Council’s cabinet - a meeting intended to discuss a fresh consultation around the Greater Norwich Local Plan.

Villagers circulated fliers at the meeting flagging up their concerns about the scheme, which would see the firm developing land off of Ipswich Road.

Among these concerns around heavy industrial traffic, noise pollution and what is described as “a drastic change in the character of the village”.

However, the agricultural firm, which has asked both the council and residents for opinions, say the project would provide a boost to the local economy.

A vision statement for the scheme says the project would do this by “creating a centre of excellence in agriculture, horticulture and provide new job opportunities”.

However, the campaign leaflet says: “No-one wants to stand in the way of progress and there are numerous designated industrial sites around Norwich which would suit this purpose.

“But rest assured that if this development happens, it cannot be reversed. Once the greenfield site is re-designated for industrial development, it could lead to further industrialisation and yet more destruction of our countryside.”

Ben Turner, managing director of Ben Burgess, said a consultation with villagers into the scheme was well attended, but that it was too soon to comment further - with no planning application submitted yet.

South Norfolk Council leader John Fuller though, said the villagers were pre-mature in putting their views across at the meeting.

He said: “If a formal application comes in, there will be lots of opportunities for people to have their say.”

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