Aspall Cyder is too big for Aspall, say villagers in Suffolk as permission granted for extension
- Credit: Lucy Taylor
One of Suffolk’s oldest and most successful family businesses has been given permission to expand its operations – despite community concerns it has already outgrown the hamlet from which it takes its name.
Aspall Cyder’s new press, approved this week by Mid Suffolk District Council (MSDC), is hoped to increase the company’s production to help it compete with European imports.
Although the expansion is also expected to create seven new jobs, it has been met with concern by people living in Aspall, near Debenham.
Joan Freeman, who submitted a petition opposing the plans, signed by villagers, said that while she admired the business, further expansion would cause “chaos” on the roads with “hundreds” of extra lorries.
She said she was disappointed with the decision, which had “let the genie out of the box” to limitless future expansion. “I don’t begrudge their business at all, but if it wants to grow further it needs to move elsewhere,” she added. “Aspall has already outgrown Aspall and we don’t have the infrastructure to support these lorries.”
The villagers suggested the new Food Enterprise Zone (FEZ) in Stowmarket as an alternative site.
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However, Aspall’s planning application said its location was “an integral element” of its operation, and was committed to remain. It has been making cyder there for eight generations, since 1728.
MSDC said any decision to relocate would be a matter for Aspall, not the council, though it would be “delighted to talk through the advantages” of the FEZ with any business.
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Gerard Brewster, who is responsible for business growth at MSDC, said the application did not permit “any greenfield development or major changes to the impact of the premises on its setting”.
“We have given careful consideration to the comments and petition we have received as part of the planning process,” he said. “These new facilities are expected to lead to the creation of seven new full time jobs and we welcome this positive investment in the future of the business as an important part of the economy.”
People in Aspall had called for any expansion to come with conditions to widen the B1077, highlighting near misses involving lorries and damage caused to a cottage. Suffolk County Council said there were no plans to widen the approach road.
Aspall said it always took into account local residents’ views and was “constantly” looking at ways of reducing traffic.