Villagers concerned Boxford factory expansion could negatively impact area

PepsiCo Copella juice factory at Boxford Farm, Suffolk.
PepsiCo Copella juice factory at Boxford Farm, Suffolk.

Residents are unhappy about a nearby Boxford factory’s proposed expansion, which includes an increase in heavy goods lorries on their road.

Homeowners from Stoke Road in Leavenheath met with Konings to put forward their concerns about the company’s planning application to build new bottling and canning facilities over the next 10 years.

More heavy goods vehicles would come and go from the factory each week, increasing from 135 to 314.

Homeowner and meeting organiser Peter Reason said: “Stoke Road is already struggling to cope with the existing amount of traffic – any increase in lorries is ridiculous.”

He said it was not only the traffic which concerned him. “It’s a blot on the landscape and the wrong place to do it,” he said.

“It’s inside an area of outstanding natural beauty and would be more suited to an industrial estate off the A12 or A14.”

He said he was also worried about light and noise pollution, the size of new warehousing and what would happen if Konings left the site in the future.

Jacob Kingston, a marketing consultant who works from home in Stoke Road, said: “We expressed concern about the volume of traffic and asked them if they had considered an alternative route.

“They said they would look at it, but our view is that they should have already looked at it before submitting an application.”

Another householder, Cieran Smith, added: “The road is not suited to the current volume of traffic, let alone the increase they are proposing.

“It’s impossible to have two HGVs pass one another without one mounting the pavement. The pavement is torn to shreds outside my house.”

He echoed concerns about a lack of consultation and it being a development proposed in an area of outstanding natural beauty.

Eight residents from Stone Street met the factory manager on Monday.

One of them, Eddie Kench from Kiln Cottage, said he had been impressed by the company’s reaction.

“They have agreed traffic calming measures at each end of Stone Street to stop HGVs coming into the village,” he said.

“They also spent a day at my house investigating noise issues, shutting off different parts of the factory.

“It was eventually narrowed down to water recirculation in a large pond, which doesn’t even belong to them.”

Konings site manager Phil Clark said: “As a significant local employer which also strives to be a good neighbour, we were pleased to recently meet many community groups to discuss our plans to grow our business.

“At our meeting with Stoke Road residents, some concerns were raised about the width of the highway at certain points.

“As a result, we have been working with our highways consultants to ascertain the precise situation and suggest possible minor adjustments.

“We have been advised that the road is passable by two HGVs but, at certain points, unkempt verges need to be cut back, some white lining improvement might be of benefit to slow drivers down, and signage needs to be improved to warn drivers they are entering a built-up area.

“Our meeting with Stone Street residents went well and we are pleased to have reassured them that any additional noise from the site will be minimal.

“As a result of their suggestion, we are working to get the post office to allocate us a new postcode that will better direct delivery drivers to our site.”