A West Norfolk specialist beer business has won planners’ approval for expansion plans in the face of road safety objections.
The owners of Beers of Europe, of Garage Lane, Setch, said they feared having to move out of the county if a bid to treble the sales area and create a cafe and bar for customers failed.
Norfolk Highways opposed the plans because they would increase the amount of traffic entering and leaving the site via a restricted junction with the busy A10.
Planning committee members agreed unanimously yesterday that the importance of supporting an existing business and encouraging employment and tourism outweighed, on balance, the issues raised by the highways department.
The founder of the company, Derek Clark, said after the meeting: “It’s absolutely brilliant. If it had gone the other way, we thought we would have to find another site. A number of people have said they would love to have us in Cambridge.”
The meeting heard the family-run company started in 2000, employed nine full-time and three part-time staff and planned to create another five jobs.
Its reputation attracted customers from all over the country and overseas, putting it firmly on the local tourist trail.
The expanded shop would improve customer service but was mainly designed to meet growth in Internet sales. The bar /cafe would serve tasting events, special functions and customers coming from further afield.
Company spokesman Gordon Smith said the junction between Garage Lane and the A10 also served a 20-hectare industrial estate and was already used by large numbers of vehicles. “In that context, we are a pimple on the traffic picture in this area,” he said.
Refusing the application on highways grounds would negate any increase in activity on the estate and be harmful to the council’s own policy of promoting regeneration.
Beers of Europe also tended to be busier at off peak times, he said.
Road safety fears included an increase in the number of slowing, stopping, waiting and turning movements on the A10.
Highways officer Richard Smith told the meeting the junction did not have a right turn lane and was a principal route with heavy traffic.
Details of three accidents in the area in the five years prior to 2010 revealed two were tail end shunts and one involved a vehicle turning right out of the junction.
Anthony White said: “I find it a very low accident rate. I think in that situation I would agree with the application.”
Trevor Manley said: “I’m all in favour of this application. Surely we should encourage firms to extend and take on more employees. I just believe Highways are putting up obstacles to stop people expanding.”
Committee chairwoman Vivienne Spikings said: “This is a marvellous opportunity for a business to get on in West Norfolk and in this constrained time I think the need of the business is overwhelming.”
Councillor Brian Long said there was space available opposite the junction. “The junction could be altered and a filter lane put in. Perhaps it could be included in a forward work programme to encourage businesses at that location,” he said.