March 6 2015 Latest news:
Dominic Bareham, senior reporter
Wednesday, January 30, 2013
Plans for a major new town centre retail development on the former site of a poultry processing business could be submitted by the end of February.
As well as a new supermarket, possibly up to 30,000sq ft in size, the plans for the former Banham Poultry land in Station Road could include a petrol station, doctors surgery and further shops, while also creating up to 300 new jobs.
The former Gaymer’s plot, which hosts the processing side of Banham’s business, will become empty when the 650 staff move from the 12.5 acre site back to the firm’s old home at Bunns Bank industrial park, a mile out of town. A planning application for Bunns Bank will follow in April.
Representatives from the firm held a consultation attended by 100 local residents at the town’s Connaught Hall in November, which revealed over 90pc supported the Bunns Bank move.
The firm’s director Sarah Foulger said: “Bunns Bank will be a highly sustainable processing plant, equivalent to the existing size. It will include the latest environmental technology and greater efficiencies to assist the company to be more competitive.”
She added the relocation would also secure the future of the town’s largest employer and maintain the economic benefits across south Norfolk and Breckland.
In November, Bob Delafield, a development consultant working for Banham Poultry, said the business faced losing ground to more technologically advanced competitors in the poultry processing industry, such as VION food group and 2 Sisters foods, unless a site for a bigger premises could be found to accommodate larger machinery.
Increases in feed prices and pressure from supermarkets to improve product quality have also made the move a necessity.
Mr Delafield said the Station Road plant could not be extended because the site had homes nearby, which were being affected by noise and smells, while Bunns Bank was in a more rural location.
The company moved to Station Road after fire destroyed the premises at Bunns Bank in 1999. Since then, the Bunns Bank site has been used mainly as a storage facility.
Live poultry is sent to the Station Road site from the firm’s farms in East Anglia and is then processed and packaged ready for sale.
With a reputation as one of the toughest people in business, many stores would shudder at the thought of getting the Mary Portas treatment.