Despite objections, the majority of people would welcome Nethergate Brewery’s move to Long Melford, according to the village’s planning committee chairman.
Three parish councillors and a couple of residents wrote in with concerns over a licensing application by Nethergate Brewery for a new brewery to be built in Rodbridge Corner, Long Melford, on the site of the current Rodbridge Car Sales.
But the move has been praised by Long Melford planning chairman John Watts who said it could provide a boost to tourism for the village, adding that the committee had passed by majority to accept the planning application plans for the site from the firm.
Mr Watts said: “We don’t want Melford to appear Luddite. It will be a positive for tourism.
“Only one person voted against it. The huge majority of councillors are in favour, it would be an asset.”
On criticism of potential traffic problems Mr Watts said: “The business of traffic is a load of rubbish. There is just as much traffic with a car sales there.”
He added that councillors had been reassured by the firm that despite the application for live and recorded music both inside and out, it would only be opened on a limited number of evenings.
David Martin, chairman of Long Melford Business Association said the organisation had yet to discuss the plans but said he was in favour.
“I welcome proposals for Nethergate to move into Long Melford. A location close to the main A134 will be good for the brewery and brings them closer to Sudbury which should assist them with recruitment as the business expands.
“For the village, it is good to see a new manufacturing business to add to our business profile. I expect that Nethergate will also add value to our strong tourism offer.”
John Holberry, managing director of Nethergate, agreed saying: “I think it’s positive news. This is about bringing something that is another visitor attraction to Long Melford and brings additional employment.”
He said there had a been a lot of support from villagers for the plans, saying the firm wanted to return to its Suffolk roots, having been set up in Clare in 1986 before moving to Pentlow in 2000.
He added that the company was looking to establish itself in a well-known, accessible location and grow both as a brewery but also as a visitor attraction, embracing the upsurge in interest in brewing.
Mr Holberry insisted the brewery would not be opening as a pub, hoping to calm any concerns residents may have over noise.
“We are not going to be open on an evening on a regular basis. We may hold some evening events for the village,” he said, adding that he would welcome residents using the venue for their own events.
“They will be small scale events and we will work very closely with locals. This is all about creating local support and being part of the community.”
He said that the recorded music licence would be for background music in the visitor centre when customers were able to try the beers after a tour.
Initially it is likely the new site will see around 50 per cent more staff employed than at the Pentlow site, with Mr Holberry hoping this will increase as the brewery grows.
“We are going to bring great employment to the village, we will be an asset to Long Melford,” he said.
Babergh District Council is yet to hear the application.
Sudbury Chamber of Commerce chairman Chris Storey was also positive about the planned move.
“Planning for a good local business to grow into a larger even more successful business is for many businesses a challenge that requires a step change in their approach. East Anglia is a great location for brewing with a strong malt industry and well known brands already established.
“Keeping up with the success of your competitors maintains and increases jobs in the local economy and ensures that the local area around Sudbury and Long Melford can grow and sustain its local economy.
“Nethergate Brewery is a great local success story and as such needs to grow to maintain its position in a competitive world and I can only congratulate them on their forward looking vision and business success.”