Controversial Ben Burgess HQ move recommended for refusal

Ben Turner, managing director of Norfolk-based farm machinery dealer Ben Burgess

Ben Turner, director of Ben Burgess. - Credit: Chris Hill

A company's bid to move its Norfolk farm machinery headquarters has been recommended for refusal.

Farm machinery firm Ben Burgess wants to move from near Trowse, on the edge of Norwich, to a new two-storey headquarters at Swainsthorpe and has been seeking planning permission for the new building.

The planning committee at South Norfolk Council will make a decision on the application for the replacement headquarters on Monday (September 20), with council officers recommending refusal.

A number of parish councils have objected, including Swainsthorpe, Saxlingham Nethergate, Mulbarton, Hempnall, Tasburgh, Colney and Tivetshall.

Historic England and the Campaign to Protect Rural England have also objected, as have 575 members of the public.

There was support from 160 members of the public, New Anglia Local Enterprise Partnership and Agri-TechE, while Norfolk County Council's economic development department said it would bring economic benefits.


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But the documents, which will go before the five councillors on the development management committee, give a number of reasons for recommending refusal.

Those include that the new buildings would mean a "significant adverse impact to the landscape" and that "important" hedgerow and an oak tree would be lost.

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Another reason is that the development would lead to "less than substantial harm" to the significance of nearby St Peters Church, a Grade II* listed building.

St Peter's church at Swainsthorpe.; Photo: Bill Smith

St Peters Church in Swainsthorpe. - Credit: Archant © 2011

And officers say access, via a new three-arm roundabout junction on the A140 to the south of the site, would lead to "conflict and interference" on a stretch of road classified as being "of nationally strategic importance".

Ben Turner, director at Ben Burgess, said: "Following seven years of collaboration between Ben Burgess and South Norfolk Council, we were surprised with the recommendation for refusal contained in the committee report.

"Our agents and consultants are currently reviewing the details contained within the report and how this relates to our latest submissions."

Earlier this year, a judge ruled the county council had acted unlawfully in its decision making over the proposal, when it was asked for comments as part of the planning process.

While highways officers had initially recommended refusal due to the new junction on the A140, the Conservative-controlled cabinet agreed the authority would not object, saying the economic impact outweighed the concerns of officers.

Swainsthorpe Parish Council and the Saving Swainsthorpe group sought a judicial review hearing before a High Court judge.

And Mrs Justice Lang said it had been unlawful for the county council's cabinet to respond on economic grounds.

The county council's highway's department subsequently objected to the application because of the new junction.

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