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No objection over switch for farm machinery firm despite A140 concerns

A computer-generated image of the proposed Ben Burgess building. Picture: Ben Burgess

A computer-generated image of the proposed Ben Burgess building. Picture: Ben Burgess

Ben Burgess

A company’s controversial bid to move its farm machinery headquarters has cleared a hurdle - after county councillors decided not to object despite highways safety concerns.

Margaret Dewsbury, Norfolk County Council cabinet member for communities. Pic: Norfolk Conservatives.Margaret Dewsbury, Norfolk County Council cabinet member for communities. Pic: Norfolk Conservatives.

Ben Burgess wants to move from its base at Trowse, near Norwich, to a new two-storey headquarters off the A140, near Swainsthorpe, warning Norfolk jobs could be at risk if that is not permitted.

A decision on whether to grant permission will be made by South Norfolk Council, but Norfolk County Council, as highways authority, was consulted.

When the county council was initially consulted in January last year, officers said a new junction on the A140 to serve the new headquarters would be against the council’s policy and would be refused because of the potential for “traffic conflict”.

During discussions, council officers said a new roundabout which incorporated an existing junction would overcome refusal.

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But when the application was lodged, it was for a roundabout solely serving the development, rather than incorporating an existing junction. So officers recommended refusal.

The plans were amended in August, but the access via a roundabout was unchanged - so the concerns of officers remained.

However, Grahame Bygrave, County Hall’s director of highways and waste, subsequently said a “stand-alone roundabout constructed to the current design standards will be a safe form of junction”.

And at a meeting of the county council’s Conservative-controlled cabinet, councillors voted not to object, saying the economic impact, alongside the safety and appropriateness of a roundabout on the A140, overcame the objections on highways grounds.

Margaret Dewsbury, cabinet member for communities, said: “In the current situation, I think we need to support proposals that enable people to keep their jobs, I know the road well and I think the roundabout is a good, suitable solution.”

Ben Burgess managing director Ben Turner previously said there was “no plan B” and the Swainsthorpe site was the only viable option after six years of searching for a new home.

The proposals have sparked anger in Swainsthorpe. They are opposed by the parish council and the Campaign to Protect Rural England and a ‘Saving Swainsthorpe’ campaign group has been formed.


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