Revised plans to expand Boxford Copella plant to go before council
- Credit: Gregg Brown
Controversial plans to expand the Copella juice factory in Boxford will be discussed by councillors next week.
Drinks manufacturer Konings withdrew a planning application to develop the 5.5-acre site on Brick Kiln Hill into a 19-acre base in June last year.
The £35million project faced criticism from villagers with concerns over the impact on the Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB) and increased traffic in the area.
Following the withdrawal of last year’s application, the company then submitted new plans for the site, which includes a 15m high building of more than 2,000sqm and extra car parking.
Parish councils and villagers again opposed the new application, claiming the expansion is not suitable in the rural location.
Now Babergh District Council has recommended approval of the application, ahead of a planning committee meeting at Endeavour House in Ipswich on Wednesday, February 20, at 9.30am.
The Locals Against Konings Expansion (LAKE) group said it is fearful of what future plans may be submitted if this one is approved.
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In a statement, the group said: “LAKE are disappointed that planning officers consider that a new building of 2,060sqm and 15m high is not classed as a “major development”.
“As a result the national planning guidance that is in place to protect an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty will not apply.
“The main justification for this is that there are already large commercial buildings on the site.
“These existing buildings are only there as a result of the incremental development which has been allowed to occur on this site over many years, with each phase of the expansion being used to justify the next.
“We are therefore fearful for what future plans will be submitted if this is approved.
“We remain hopeful that councillors will challenge the officer’s report and vote to reject the application to ensure we protect this nationally recognised landscape.”
A statement from Polstead Parish Council said: “The proposed industrial building at 15m high would, by reason of the siting, design and external appearance of the building, appear visually intrusive, appearing dominant against the skyline and would not be sympathetic to the character or landscape quality of the Dedham Vale and Stour Valley AONB.”
Phil Clark, site lead at Konings UK, said: “Nearly two years after our initial application, Konings UK is pleased that our current proposals are scheduled to be discussed by Babergh’s planning committee.
“For us, this application to expand our Boxford plant is a welcome vote of confidence both specifically for our business and more generally in south Suffolk, which has recently suffered from a number of closure announcements from local manufacturers.
“If approved, our modest extension on top of a previously approved plan will allow us to insulate our business from some of the external financial risks to which it can be exposed.”