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Fresh calls to block multi-million pound Ben Burgess site at public meeting

PUBLISHED: 10:19 03 September 2020 | UPDATED: 13:36 03 September 2020

Villagers attend a meeting in Swainsthorpe about a planning application from Ben Burgess. Picture: Ruth Lawes

Villagers attend a meeting in Swainsthorpe about a planning application from Ben Burgess. Picture: Ruth Lawes

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Fresh calls have been made to stop plans for a multi-million pound industrial site in a village which has been branded a “threat” by people who live nearby.

Campaigners are fighting a planning application from Ben Burgess for a new headquarters in Swainsthorpe. Picture: Ruth LawesCampaigners are fighting a planning application from Ben Burgess for a new headquarters in Swainsthorpe. Picture: Ruth Lawes

Dozens of people attended a meeting on Swainsthorpe green to block a bid by farm equipment supplier Ben Burgess on Wednesday.

The company has submitted plans to build a new headquarters on land to the west of the A140 on the outskirts of the South Norfolk village.

The proposals include two large buildings covering almost 9,000sqm, as well as sales and service areas, parts stores, workshops, offices and training rooms.

But it has angered villagers who have raised concerns around excess traffic and the loss of a greenfield site.

Map displaying approximate location of potential Ben Burgess headquarters. Picture: GoogleMap displaying approximate location of potential Ben Burgess headquarters. Picture: Google

Robin Parkinson, who led the meeting, labelled the proposed development as “ridiculous.”

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He said: “The case for building at Swainsthorpe has not been justified. There are far more suitable places. It is a real threat for everyone.”

Bonnie and Peter Toogood, in their 70s, were at the meeting and said they feared the development would lead to an increase in road accidents.

A computer-generated image of the proposed Ben Burgess headquarters at Swainsthorpe. Picture: Ben BurgessA computer-generated image of the proposed Ben Burgess headquarters at Swainsthorpe. Picture: Ben Burgess

They said: “It just beggars belief. The A140 is bad enough but with more cars it will just be endless stop/starting. There are bound to be accidents and there are lots of small children living here.”

Ben Burgess is currently based in Trowse but says it needs to relocate as the site is “no longer fit for purpose” and is constraining the ability to continue growing and competing for customers and skilled workers.

Ben Turner, managing director of Ben Burgess, said this was the ninth application made during an exhaustive six-year search for a new headquarters.

“We have put forward numerous different sites and we have looked at many others, but this (Swainsthorpe) is the only one that time and time again comes back to us,” he said. “We have no ‘Plan B’.

Norwich-based farm machinery firm Ben Burgess says its proposed new headquarters at Swainsthorpe is vital for the firm's future growth - but it has provoked angry opposition from neighbouring villagers. Pictured: A computer-generated image of the proposed HQ building. Picture: Ben BurgessNorwich-based farm machinery firm Ben Burgess says its proposed new headquarters at Swainsthorpe is vital for the firm's future growth - but it has provoked angry opposition from neighbouring villagers. Pictured: A computer-generated image of the proposed HQ building. Picture: Ben Burgess

“We want to get on with our neighbours. We are hoping to build a building of style which will sit nicely in the countryside, and nearly 60pc of the site will be grassland and green areas and trees.

“We will be operating 3.5m below the height of Swainsthorpe, so visually we won’t be in their eyeline.”


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