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Whittington charcoal and firewood supplier wins planning approval for expansion bid

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Plans to expand a West Norfolk-based charcoal and wood supplier's operations have been backed by councillors.

Big K bosses had warned they could be forced to leave their site at Whittington Hill if their proposals were blocked, potentially putting dozens of jobs at risk.

But members of West Norfolk Council's planning committee voted unanimously to approve their application when they met at Lynn Town Hall yesterday.

Big K premises at Whittington HIll (46867725)
Big K premises at Whittington HIll (46867725)

The proposal allows for the demolition of piggery buildings on neighbouring land, which the company announced it had bought earlier this year, to make way for extra warehouse and storage space, plus office and parking facilities.

Simon Wood, the company's operations director, told the meeting the company had outgrown its current site and needed extra space to meet demand and new legal requirements in the sector.

The firm, which is one of the UK's largest suppliers of charcoal and firewood, currently employs 55 permanent staff, plus extra agency workers during peak periods.

Mr Wood said: "This development is a significant investment for us and we hope that it will be beneficial both to our business and the local area.

"Our intention is to safeguard these jobs and to increase the workforce once the site is complete, as the business grows further and we develop our growing in Britain timber offerings."

A small number of public objections were raised ahead of the meeting, mostly on noise and traffic grounds, with one accusing the company of having "no consideration" for its neighbours.

But Mr Wood argued the scheme would have "minimal impact" on the area because of proposed measures including tree planting and the installation of acoustic fencing which he said went beyond the requirements of a noise assessment.

He added: "Being considered a good neighbour is important to us and we believe we've demonstrated this over the 30 years we've been in Norfolk."

Independent councillor Jo Rust was one of several members to praise the attention to detail within the application and the mitigation measures planned.

Sandra Squire added: "I'm actually quite impressed with this application, and while I do have sympathy with neighbours, I think they've made a good effort to blend it in and be as good neighbours as they can be."

And Brian Long said: "We have this industry within West Norfolk and it's important we look to promote the businesses that are within our borough.

"This is an excellent application. More power to what they're doing and let's hope they become the biggest as a result of this."

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