Bressingham businessman bids to block green-lit grain silo development

A mock-up image of the proposed development at Harvest House in Bressingham, after one year.

A mock-up image of the proposed development at Harvest House in Bressingham, after one year.

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A Bressingham businessman has vowed to bring a judicial review against a £10 million development at a local agricultural plant, after the proposal was granted the green light.

South Norfolk Council planners voted nine to two on Wednesday to approve an application to build 17 storage silos, ten intake silos and associated facilities at Harvest House in Low Road, following a site visit earlier this month, which came after two prior deferrals on the decision.

But despite objections from Bressingham residents and the parish council over traffic, site access issues, noise, visual impacts and the devaluation of homes and businesses close by, the committee agreed with planning officer Chris Watts’ conclusion that the application was “acceptable”, balanced against the “clear economic benefits” of the proposal.

Mr Watts wrote: “Whilst I fully appreciate these concerns, they do not represent a reason to refuse the application.”

Plant hire business owner Mervyn Lambert, who led the local opposition to the plans, told the Diss Express the review, which must be lodged within six weeks, could cost him between £126,000 and £163,000, depending on the outcome.

He said: “I’m so incensed that such a carbuncle should be foisted on Bressingham, which is renowned for its gardens and steam museum, that I’m filing a judicial review on behalf of the parishioners.”

Mr Lambert argued that a proper Environmental Impact Assessment had not been submitted during the planning process, and contended that Harvest House should have been designated as a brownfield site, because several existing buildings at the plant had already been demolished.

Openfield Agriculture, which owns Harvest House and submitted the plans, claims the additions would create at least six new jobs, preserve the current workforce, keep the plant fiscally viable and allow them to meet food storage regulations.

The firm stated it had investigated several alternative sites, but these were “not considered appropriate” due to location and initial infrastructure costs.

Bressingham and Fersfield Parish Council, which gave a recommendation of refusal to the plans, said following the decision that it would now “establish a dialogue” with Openfield to try and “get something positive” out of the development.

Richard Hewitt, parish council chairman, told the Diss Express: “We are very disappointed but need to make the best of it in the interests of the community.

“This has not been what you might call a team effort. I think there are a lot of concerns with the fairly opaque nature of local planning.

“What we shall be doing is making sure the community benefits as far as it possibly can.”

Mr Hewitt said one idea was to ask the company to invest some of the savings it made by not relocating into the village.

A public meeting to discuss the matter is set to be held at a to-be-determined date in the next two to three weeks.