Boxford Parish Council U-turns to oppose £35m Konings factory expansion

Konings staff, September 2017.
Konings staff, September 2017.

Boxford Parish Council has reversed its stance towards a proposed £35 million drinks factory expansion, recommending the planning application be refused.

The council had previously given its backing to proposals by drinks maker Konings UK to build a 19-acre manufacturing base at Brick Kiln Hill – but, at a packed meeting on Monday night, councillors changed their recommendation, after hearing concerns of villagers and researching the plans further.

Konings says the development would secure the 90 current jobs at the site, create 116 new ones and generate £3.7 million of extra spending power into the local economy.

But the proposal has drawn heavy opposition from local residents and received objections from the parish councils of Assington and Leavenheath, which argue that development of this scale would lead to an unmanageable rise in traffic and could have lasting damage on the Dedham Vale Area of Natural Beauty (AONB).

Debbie Hattrell, Boxford Parish Council clerk, said: “Members weighed up the benefits of further employment against the harm experienced with the current level of HGV movements, which would increase due to expansion, and the impact in the AONB.

“Following discussion, the majority of members voted to object to this application.”

This change of stance by the parish council comes as the drinks company hosted Babergh District Council’s planning committee on a site visit on Wednesday, with the final decision on the application expected soon.

Phil Clark, Konings UK’s site lead in Boxford, said the firm had been working hard over recent months to meet with and answer the questions of residents and parish councils, and has looked at adjusting its original application based on the issues raised.

“We have gone beyond the usual requirements in these circumstances because we have a clear stake in the local community and wish to be as good a neighbour for the next 40 years as we have striven to have been in the first.

“As a result of these engagements, the company continues to explore changes to our planning application, so as to accommodate the wishes and ideas of others.

“We are pleased Babergh’s planning committee members have decided to look at the site, our proposed expansion plans and what we are doing to reduce any additional noise and visual intrusions ahead of the application being evaluated and voted on.”

To view the application, go to https://planning.babergh.gov.uk/online-applications and search DC/17/03117.