Sedgeford poultry farm bid ‘won’t harm tourism’, say council planners

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A new poultry farm, that could house up to 180,000 chickens at a time, would not harm West Norfolk’s tourism industry, despite the fears of opponents, planning officials say.

Hundreds of letters, plus a petition of more than 5,000 signnatures have been submitted against the proposed development in Sedgeford.

But West Norfolk Council’s planning committee has been urged to approve the scheme when it meets next week.

A report published ahead of the meeting said planning permission should be granted “on balance.”

Applicants Newcome Baker Farms are seeking permission to build four new sheds on the old Whin Close site off Docking Road.

The company says the scheme is vital to help secure the future of the business, as well as increase the amount of British-reared chicken available to shoppers.

A statement submitted on behalf of the firm’s managing director, William Barber, said: “I am a third generation Sedgeford farmer and resident of Sedgeford and, as someone who lives and works in the village, I would not operate my business to the detriment of others.”

But the application has provoked fierce opposition, with 10 nearby town and parish councils opposing it.

A total of 370 objection letters have been received by the borough council, against just four in support.

And a petition organised by People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) has been signed by 5,537 people.

One of the main areas of concern is the potential impact on the tourist industry, which the West Norfolk Tourism Forum estimates is worth almost £500 million to the local economy and supports almost 10,000 jobs.

The council planners said: “The area is popular for tourists visiting the coast and other heritage features in the locality.

“It is considered that the enjoyment of the area would not be detrimentally affected by the proposal.”

But objectors have previously warned that the scheme could mark “the beginning of the end” for West Norfolk as a tourist destination.

Those concerns have been echoed by the Campaign for the Protection of Rural England, who said: “Apart from the negative visual impact, the poultry business is well known for creating strong odours and affecting air quality, which would surely impact on the cultural value of Norfolk’s tourist industry.”

Other concerns include the additional traffic opponents say would be generated by the proposal and its potential impact on public health.

But the report said: “As a percentage of the total amount of vehicular movements on the highway, the proposal is not significant.”

It added that health concerns would be addressed through environmental permits, while odour levels from the process were below recognised EU nuisance levels.

The committee meeting will take place at the borough council’s offices in Chapel Street, Lynn on Monday from 9.30am.