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‘We will not be bullied by big business’ - Villagers declare war on multi-million pound planning proposal

PUBLISHED: 10:55 18 January 2019

Campaigners with their 'Save Swainsthorpe' posters protest a planning application by local farm equipment supplier Ben Burgess. Photo: Bethany Wales

Campaigners with their 'Save Swainsthorpe' posters protest a planning application by local farm equipment supplier Ben Burgess. Photo: Bethany Wales

Archant

Residents in a small South Norfolk village have branded plans to build a multi-million pound industrial site on its doorstep ‘arrogant and inappropriate’.

The proposals by local farm equipment supplier Ben Burgess would see the company build new headquarters on the outskirts of Swainsthorpe, including two buildings totalling 96,520 square feet.

But since the announcement in early July 2018 anger has been growing among villagers, sparking the formation of a resident lead campaign group, which said 95pc of Swainsthorpe residents had signed its latest petition objecting to the application.

Campaign spokesman Nick Chandler said he believed Ben Burgess was choosing to cut costs by purchasing low price tag agricultural land rather than a site identified as suitable for industrial developments by South Norfolk Council.

He criticised the company for what he described as its ‘inappropriate and greed led’ choice of location and said the small village was ready to ‘fight them at every stage’.

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

He said: “We were all shocked when we found out about the proposals as there is plenty of land round here earmarked for this sort of development.

“The site is bigger than the village footprint and if developed would become its defining feature.

“We are a small village but are determined not to let big business bully its way to approval.”

As well as concerns about the new site impeding on agricultural space, the group said it feared the A140 Ipswich Road, which runs through the village, would struggle to cope with the influx of heavy farm vehicles and increased commuter traffic.

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

Despite the fierce opposition, managing director of the company Ben Turner said it was working to ensure the new building was sympathetic to its surroundings.

He said: “We are trying very hard to blend in – 60pc of the site will end up being green parkland with grass and trees and we have recessed the building 3.5m into the ground to make use of the topography to try and make the building shrink.”

What do you think of the new proposals? Email bethany.wales@archant.co.uk with your comments.

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