Sedgeford poultry site decision delayed for site visit

The view over the fields close to the site of the proposed poultry farm near Sedgeford - The village

The view over the fields close to the site of the proposed poultry farm near Sedgeford - The village sign. Picture: Matthew Usher. - Credit: Matthew Usher

Debate is set to continue as councillors voted to delay their decision on whether to give a controversial poultry farm the go-ahead.

West Norfolk planning committee councillors decided yesterday to visit the Whin Close site, near Sedgeford, which has been subject to much opposition – with 370 letters objecting to the application sent to the borough council.

Protesters staged a demonstration outside the council offices ahead of the meeting.

Newcome-Baker Farms wants to build four barns, reduced from the eight they set out in their initial first application, accommodating around 180,000 birds.

Tim Thurston, vice-chairman of the No to Poultry Factory Action Group said the development would be on an 'elevated and prominent' site and a 'wide variety' of wildlife would be affected.


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He said: 'Visitors will experience the impacts of this development, tourism will suffer and jobs will be lost, and to what benefit?'

But the planning committee's vice-chairman, Mick Peake said the 'scaremongering' of the opposition was 'much like the recent referendum'. He said he lived near a larger chicken facility and had never found it a nuisance.

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Applicant William Barber said the environment agency had 'strict criteria and strong powers'. He added he felt more chickens should be produced in this country, with modern facilities and standards, rather than be imported from around the world. Mr Barber added the location of the proposal was 'naturally screened' and the application 'should not be judged on fear or emotion but simply on planning laws and facts'.

Jonathan Barber, who runs two tourism businesses near the location, said he thought the 'project fear' campaign against the proposal had done more damage to the local tourism than the site itself.

But ward councillor Ian Devereux, who was applauded by the public after his speech, said: 'I want to focus on the magnitude and richness of the voice and passion of the people who have stood above the parapet.'

During the councillors' debate, Avril Wright voiced concerns over the site's heritage significance. It was once a First World War and Second World War airfield and was part of the birth of the RAF, she said. But principal planner David Parkin said there were no plans to demolish historic buildings in that area.

Action group chairman Nick Skerritt, who spoke after the meeting, said the hearing had been 'fair'.

'I think if planning permission is passed I would say it's a very sad day for Sedgeford, Docking and Fring and the whole of west Norfolk and the applicants should be ashamed of themselves.'

Councillors will attended a site visit on Thursday and make their decision on the application later that day.

What do you think? Email sophie.biddle@archant.co.uk

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