Campaign

18th October 2020

benopoly

In the overall scheme of things little Swainsthorpe in rural Norfolk, population 350, with three streetlights and a 10th century Parish Church, could be described as an insignificant place.
Our annual cost to Norfolk is minimal.
There are no schools, parks, libraries, or shops, to maintain and yet we pay our full rates and council tax and live our lives quietly enjoying fresh air, good neighbours and an excellent community spirit.
Our Home Farm (Malt House Farm) includes 35 acres of farmland bordering the village and adjoining the gardens of those living on Church Road. Malt House Farm and its fields have produced food for centuries.
This all changed in 2016 when the farm was purchased by Ben Burgess Ltd. an agricultural machinery and engineering company intending to develop the land into industrial use and housing. Malt House Farm never was and is still not in the Local Development Plan and the change is not, currently granted.
One of the interesting absences from the South Norfolk District Council website is any evidence of pre-application planning advice, although Ben Burgess state in the planning application (2018/2631) addendum.
The following statement:
‘The decision to purchase the farm at Swainsthorpe in 2016 was only made after a positive meeting with the Chairman of South Norfolk Council John Fuller and senior planning officers, where it was said that this was ‘achievable’’
Is this true? Did the applicant take pre planning advice from South Norfolk District Council prior to the purchase of Malt House Farm in 2016? We await confirmation through freedom of information requests.
So on the face of it, we are led to believe that the purchaser bravely took a ‘throw of the dice’ a gamble of £3.1 million and bought the farm in the expectation that they would get full planning permission and turn £3.1 million into at least £20million.
Again, on the face of it, an extraordinary gamble for a farm machinery company to buy land that has no proper access, has no electricity water or sewerage. It is situated next to an ancient village on Glebe land and will have to rely on the services of the village to function.
It will dig a massive drainage ditch to replace the natural drainage of the land, then cover everything in concrete. It will landscape the grounds with non-native shrubs and surround the entire site in prison-like security fencing to protect the vacant buildings and tractors and machines from thieves. it will take away the night sky with its floodlights, it will replace the mighty oaks with gordy flag poles to peddle the foreign machinery.
Consultants were commissioned to demonstrate that Swainsthorpe is the only suitable place in the whole of Norfolk, by reference to the companies own strict criteria. The results of their labour is a 150 page document presented to South Norfolk Council, to persuade them of their diligence in rejecting all other sites.
Fast forward to autumn 2020 a planning application of such controversy sits on the desk of South Norfolk District County planners, the applicant now owns the farm and threatens to take his business out of Norfolk if the councillors that gave him hope in 2016 do not follow through and give him full permission to turn the ancient fields into a dealership for foreign manufactured goods.
Under normal circumstances such an application would not stand a chance.
The difficult access onto a major road, initially refused on safety grounds by Norfolk Highways Authority, has now been overruled by political influence, solely on the basis that if not granted the business will quit Norfolk. There is no evidence to substantiate this threat
Hundreds of pages of repetitive waffle have been created by the applicant to persuade and justify this bad plan and to provide a fig leaf for those that ‘gave hope’ to the applicant.
These pages include the purchaser sponsored reports that state that the 1000 year old farmland which has given good yields is now reported as low grade. The ancient oaks are B grade and suitable to be replaced with imported landscaping species and that the remaining trees are scrub or diseased. The hedgerows and banks that are to be grubbed out apparently have no ecological value. Wildlife is non-existent they have not seen the bats, foxes, meadowlarks, buzzards, voles, owls, deer and kites etc. The village and its residents are of little consequence and that the A140 accommodates a mere trickle of traffic.
Further, the applicant sponsored reports claim that the historical position of the fields and St Peters Church will be ‘enhanced’, but not according to Historic England, the government’s heritage watchdog, who describes the whole plan as alien and damaging to the heritage of the area.
The simple fact is that they are wrong. Wrong in planning law, wrong on economic grounds, wrong on environmental grounds, but most of all wrong on moral grounds.
It is an absolute disgrace in the 21st century with all the discussion on improving and protecting the environment and quality of life that a small community has been forced to fight its County Council its District Council a millionaire developer and a multinational company, just to protect itself from being exploited and overwhelmed.
Swainsthorpe has no choice because this is not just our little community and farm and countryside which is threatened, it is every village and farm in the County of Norfolk and beyond.
Today, Swainsthorpe faces the cost of legal action against these big beasts on our own, but tomorrow it could be you because if this development is granted, precedent will be set for development of arable green fields for industrial use.
Perhaps Swainsthorpe is not so insignificant in the overall scheme of things, after all it might be the axiom for the protection of Rural England and this my friends is a battle, we must all win.

9th October 2020

Accident

Are you a user of the A140?

Well make sure you take extra special care when you pass through the Swainsthorpe section, as it is about to become a danger point for accidents and delays if the Ben Burgess company has it’s way.
For reasons known only to the ‘Political Higher Authority’ of Norfolk County Council and South Norfolk Council, it has been decided by County Hall’s Cabinet to overrule the Highways Authority’s planning officers written statements and professional concern over road safety and efficiency and now offer no objections to the BB plans in order to accommodate a planning application by Ben Burgess for a factory roundabout for his sole use.
In May 2019 a clear written statement was made by the officers to refuse. In Sept 7th 2020 their view had not changed but the Cabinet overruled it on the basis of unsubstantiated and unproven economic argument.
If that were not shocking enough it has happened again this week, on another application a few hundred yards further along the A140!
A clear report by NCC Highways for refusal in 2019 on safety grounds for development of houses at Malthouse Farmyard at Swainsthorpe, has been withdrawn by the highways officers stating “although they still have concerns they reluctantly accept that the area can be developed -after apologies as it was necessary to discuss this at a higher level”.
The planning application is in the name of Mr Ben Turner – Managing Director and principal shareholder of Ben Burgess Limited.
It seems that Mr Turner and Ben Burgess have an enviable access to power and authority in local government. This is now the second time within a month that professional officer’s opinion on road safety and efficiency has been quashed by an unknown ‘higher authority’ in favour of the commercial interest of Mr Ben Turner and Ben Burgess Ltd.
Two years ago Mr Turner boasted in Swainsthorpe that they will be buildings on these fields, and that it ‘was a done deal and we had better get used to it’. It seems that a mythical but effective ‘higher authority’ than the Norfolk planners would agree.
So where does that leave the citizens of Norfolk- unable to rely on our professional planners road safety policies and guidance, unable to rely on corridors of movement like the A140 to run our businesses and daily lives.
On such an important matter we think that the ‘higher authority’ should have a name. Is it the Leader of Norfolk County Council – Mr Andrew Proctor? Is it the Leader of South Norfolk – Mr John Fuller? It does look as if someone in the corridors of power at County Hall and in South Norfolk District Council is covering Ben Burgess back – why? It can’t be for party political, financial or personal ambition reasons – can it?
It is important that we know who this person or persons are that have taken the responsibility for overruling officers on Highway safety and whether they did so in the public not private interests so that any legal processes resulting from their actions, together with possible responsibility from injury or death can be directed to the correct authorised person, be they a higher or lower authority.
For the avoidance of doubt Swainsthorpe Parish Council on behalf of us all has been forced to seek clarity from an even ‘Higher Authority’, the Law.

7th October 2020

Queue

So that’s all right then!
There you have it, Conservative Councillor, Graham Plant, Deputy Leader of Norfolk County Council said (at the recent NCC Scrutiny Committee meeting) that slowing down the A140 at Swainsthorpe is worth it, to avoid Ben Burgess quitting Norfolk.
Let us hope that the cost of slowing down the deliveries, the commuters, the businesses, to say nothing of the ambulances, fire engines and police, is indeed worth it.
Ol’ Ben must be worth a fortune to Norfolk, strange that NCC do not want us to confirm just how much.
We would also like to know for certain who is paying for Ben’s proposed personal roundabout? It certainly must not be the users of the A140 who will be heavily inconvenienced and whose costs will be increased by it.
Wake up councillors, speak up, you are there to represent the people not one individual. As the EDP reported ‘this stinks’.
Something rather dark is driving local politics here in Norfolk
The amount of skulduggery and thuggish behaviour toward a small village is hard to fully comprehend.
Over the last two weeks we have all publicly witnessed an ill-informed group on the NCC cabinet take a lead from NCC Counsellor Graham Plant deputy leader of NCC and economics portfolio holder, when he made an impassioned presentation on behalf of Ben Burgess Ltd to industrialise the Swainsthorpe fields.
Working in tandem with Tom McCabe, Executive Director of Community and Environmental services for NCC, they asked the NCC cabinet to overrule their Highways officers, overrule the NCC highways policy to support a private roundabout on the busy A140 exclusively for the Ben Burgess company.
Working under the pretext of having a mandate to speak about the economy and not planning, the NCC Counsellors then proceeded to make incorrect and misleading statements regarding the vital importance of this one company to the Norfolk economy.
The Cabinet were taken in ‘hook line and sinker’ with the Ben Burgess empty threat that if they do not get their way, they will leave Norfolk, take their ‘Norfolk family business’, elsewhere and throw their loyal employees into unemployment.
What everyone (except NCC Councillors) grasp is that the Ben Burgess turnover is reliant on dealership or agency contracts which are geographically limited. Leaving Norfolk would mean relinquishing those contracts which would be picked up by their competitors who would no doubt re-employ the skilled labour and there would be no loss to the Norfolk economy.
Presented with such a limited view, is it any wonder that the cabinet’s decision was called before the NCC Scrutiny committee?
The Liberal Democrats councillors asked no more, than that this decision be looked at in further detail.
Once again Councillor Graham Plant and Mr McCabe repeated the same case as they had done in the Cabinet meeting. The discussion at Scrutiny exposed the real weakness in the cabinet’s argument and analysis which had been poor on fact and poor on presentation, their case did not stand scrutiny at any level.
The outcome was of course inevitable and split entirely on political party grounds and being outnumbered, the call by the Liberal Democrats for further examination was overruled. It appears that the party whip supports Ben’s case right or wrong!
We ask Why?
The law, NCC policy, and any number of agencies support Swainsthorpe but this case is being driven, just like a Burgess digger, not just through our landscape but through the political process and policy of the county to the detriment of all Norfolk people, not just Swainsthorpe.
What happened to the green agenda? what happened to reducing carbon? and protecting the environment? what happened to the council’s own policies?
Ben Burgess Ltd makes a net profit circa £5 m annually with a workforce of 200 covering its regional depots. Counsellor Graham Plant and Ben Burgess say that 90 of these jobs are at risk if Ben Burgess is not allowed to build his factory on the Swainsthorpe fields.
This is blatantly untrue as a surplus of designated alternatives exist nearby and would welcome the company without destroying a community and its landscape and farmland.
So, it’s not all right then!

24th September 2020

scheme

We can do no better than let you read the report of Wednesdays meeting from the EDP.
Our elected representatives are letting us all down over the Ben Burgess issue and are terrified of having the background of this case fully reviewed.
It was obvious to anyone listening to the meeting that members of the cabinet had not examined anything other than the Ben Burgess brief. A brief which is false, inaccurate and misleading. To make important and life changing decisions with so little knowledge is irresponsible to the point of being incompetent.
The following EDP report Headed :
‘The whole thing stinks to me’ – questions over farm firm move decision
• Dan Grimmer
• dan.grimmer@archant.co.uk
• @dangrimmer24
PUBLISHED: 15:09 23 September 2020 | UPDATED: 15:09 23 September 2020
Questions have been asked over why county councillors decided economic factors outweighed their own officers concerns over a company’s controversial bid to move its farm machinery headquarters.
But that decision was called in to the council’s scrutiny committee by opposition Liberal Democrat councillors, who questioned the process.
Dan Roper, deputy leader of the Lib Dems questioned what evidence from highways officers cabinet members had drawn on in making their decision.
Ben Burgess wants to move its base from near County Hall in Norwich to a new two-storey headquarters off the A140, near Swainsthorpe.
The company previously warned jobs could be at risk if it is not permitted, with a decision due to be made by South Norfolk Council in due course.
As highways authority, Norfolk County Council was consulted. Highways officers initially said they would recommend refusal, because a new junction on the A140 to serve the building would be against council policies.
They had said a new roundabout at an existing junction could overcome concerns, but when an amended scheme was lodged it was still for a standalone roundabout only serving the mooted headquarters.
At a recent meeting, the Conservative-controlled cabinet voted not to object on highways grounds, saying the economic impact outweighed concerns and the council’s director of highways and waste had said the proposed roundabout would be safe.
But that decision was called in to the council’s scrutiny committee by opposition Liberal Democrat councillors, who questioned the process.
Dan Roper, deputy leader of the Lib Dems questioned what evidence from highways officers cabinet members had drawn on in making their decision.
After hearing from cabinet members including Graham Plant, the council’s deputy leader and Martin Wilby, cabinet member for highways and transport, Mr Roper said they seemed to have relied on a single paragraph in the cabinet report and had requested no additional information.
Mr Plant said: “I am confident that putting a roundabout in and slowing traffic down slightly is a worthwhile position to retain a company in Norfolk.”
But Lib Dem David Harrison said: “What I am saying is the whole thing stinks to me. It is an application for a specific thing, which somebody thinks is essential and it’s no more essential than anything else.”
Mr Roper’s proposal for the matter to be sent back to cabinet to change the wording on its response to the planning application was lost.
The proposals are opposed by Swainsthorpe Parish Council and the Campaign to Protect Rural England, while a campaign group called Saving Swainsthorpe has been formed.
In conclusion we are now preparing ourselves for a full legal challenge against these decisions, to ensure that the full facts are properly aired in public.
– Please show your feelings and support for the campaign by emailing the EDP attn Mr Dan.Grimmer@archant.co.uk
– Twitter:@DanGrimmer24
– Leader of Norfolk County Council. Mr Andrew Proctor ,
– Andrew.proctor.cllr@norfolk.gov.uk

23rd September 2020

Franchise

Why Ben Burgess won’t quit Norfolk.

Norfolk County Council Cabinet argued today that Ben Burgess Ltd will leave Norfolk if it is not allowed to have the Swainsthorpe agricultural land for industrial development.
They said approval must be given for Ben Burgess to have their own roundabout on the A140. They used the excuse, and excuse is what it is, that this was for the economic benefit of Norfolk and South Norfolk in particular.
When pressed on the economics behind the Burgess application, there was not one point which related specifically to this Swainsthorpe location, and the only answer was that there was nowhere else in Norfolk which was acceptable to them.
The Liberal Democrats asked that the Cabinet decision to overrule their own Highways report should be looked at again to allow a full and fair examination of the real economic benefit and a review of the threat of Burgess Ltd quitting Norfolk.
The Norfolk County Council were unable and unwilling to accept further examination of the real facts behind the case accepting only the Burgess Ltd own story. They stated that making the A140 even slower would be worth it and a small inconvenience when compared to the economic benefit of the Burgess Factory being situated on the Swainsthorpe fields.
So we have independently examined the business and explain:
Why Ben Burgess Ltd will not quit Norfolk:
Goods and hardware are mostly manufactured elsewhere and farmers are tech savvy, most are in the worldwide market place and seeking out the best. Ben Burgess Limited has adapted accordingly and provides a wide range of equipment for which it holds Norfolk distribution and franchise agreements.
· Ben Burgess is a Franchise holder and service agent covering the Norfolk Agricultural market, earning profits circa £5m per annum. As a business concept it is a no different from Audi, BMW or McDonalds. If a Franchise holder fails to service their area (Norfolk) that franchise will be taken over and handed to another distributor who will protect and serve the agency.· Ben Burgess does not manufacture anything of significance. 95% plus of all the hardware is imported from overseas and in consequence a very significant amount of the company’s turnover goes back overseas and does not serve the economy of Norfolk or the UK.
· He is agent for American, German, French and Japanese equipment some of which is sub contracted to manufacturers in Bulgaria, India.
· The Company, sells, services’ and markets goods ranging from heavy farm equipment, garden equipment to fireworks.
His principal suppliers are:
John Deere USA, who insists and demands under contract, sales and service coverage of their market in Norfolk. If not by Burgess it will be done by other John Deere main agents such Kings Lynn dealer Doubleday or Suffolk dealer Tuckwells
If Burgess were to carry out his threat to leave Norfolk he would instantly lose the Norfolk Franchise for John Deere. It does not end there, however. Almost as large and important to Ben Burgess Ltd as John Deere, is the German company agency of Grimme .
Grimme UK are specialist in root crop machinery and deal with planting and lifting. Norfolk is a particularly important area for such crops and this market would not be allowed to go unserved. Indeed in the case of Grimme which has its UK HQ in Swineshead, Lincolnshire (incidentally on a proper industrial site opposite the new prestige office of John Deere distributor, Doubleday also on an Industrial site.)
Grimme is developing a ‘company owned’ territory policy and would likely take over Norfolk and service direct should Burgess ltd decide to quit. Grimme would need all the Burgess Norfolk staff and possibly more to develop the Norfolk market ‘in house’.
Identical Supplier stories exist with the other agencies held by Burgess ltd
Hitachi of Japan, suppliers of Diggers and Shovels.
Kuhn of Germany, suppliers of Drills and power harrows,
Vaderstad of Sweden suppliers of seed Drills
Gregoire Beson of France suppliers of ploughs,
Mc Connel of UK Hedge cutters.
· In short it would be financial suicide for the Board of BB to give up these highly lucrative agencies and move to Lincolnshire, Suffolk or Cambridgeshire particularly as the agencies for these manufacturers are already represented strongly and fiercely by other well-known agricultural engineers equally as big and some bigger than Ben Burgess Ltd.
· All the agricultural engineers’ jobs in Norfolk are secure with or without Ben Burgess Limited because this is where the work is. These jobs are after all agricultural engineering jobs and this is an agricultural county. These engineers are highly prized and skilled and farmers need their equipment to be fully functional at all times. The engineers have to be local and it is ludicrous to suggest that Norfolk would be losing these skills if Ben Burgess were to leave Norfolk.
It is to be deeply regretted that the MD of Ben Burgess, Mr Turner, has chosen this line of threatening to quit his market place in his presentation to the NCC cabinet. It is both untrue and inaccurate and causes nothing but embarrassment to those supporting this rather poor argument.
The arguments used by Mr Turner to dismiss alternative sites are equally difficult to defend, in particular the County Food and Farming Hub at Easton next to the Agricultural College and the Headquarters of Anglian Farmers close by.
Mr Turner has been looking for a new factory site since 2014. Since that time many sites have come and gone dismissed for questionable reasons, now with a working farm at Swainsthorpe, he is trying to combine relocation of Ben Burgess Ltd with property development.
· Buying Malthouse Farm at agricultural prices in 2016 (£10,000 per acre, then applying to convert it into an industrial site in 2018 at potentially £350,000 per acre). With an estimated commercial gain of tens of millions it makes the hard work of being a farmer, landowner and agricultural engineer far less attractive than being a land development speculator.
If Norfolk county council approves this policy which is against all current planning regulations it will be setting a dangerous precedent and open the door for the sale of small working farms in the county for industrial, retail and commercial purposes.
Farmers are the greatest guardians of the countryside and should be supported not challenged.
If Norfolk County Council and its leader truly values Norfolk, in Mr Andrew Proctor’s words “as a World Class Environment” here is a good opportunity to prove it.
If the above is an accurate statement ( it comes from Ben Burgess ltd) why are the NCC and SNC leadership so anxious to bend the rules for this one company to the detriment of us all in South Norfolk?
Who will pay for the roundabout, the infrastructure, the environmental damage?
Is it acceptable for all of South Norfolk’s ratepayers and business’s to suffer road restrictions because of one company?
There are many questions to be answered. It is a disappointing the Norfolk County Council appears to be unwilling to do so.
We will not rest until these questions are answered and a policy for the good of ALL Norfolk people is reached, not just for Ben Burgess Ltd.


21st September 2020

What

WHAT IS THE POINT ?

What is the point of the law, if it is ignored?
What is the point of democracy, if all sides are not listened to?
What is the point of professional planners, if their specialist knowledge means nothing?
What is the point of local politicians, if they cannot speak for the people?
What is the point of truth, when lies are more powerful?
What is the point of your vote when your politician doesn’t speak for you?
When money and greed and false information are employed so easily to manipulate the system we live by – what is the point?
The point is the values that we choose to live by, where consideration and care for all are protected by law. If we have learned anything in this pandemic it is that caring for each other is what our lives are really all about.
The Norfolk County Council cabinet performance on the 7th Sept was a shocking display of all the above.
Were the cabinet members fully briefed on the details of this case and the consequences of this seemingly innocent proposal?
I do not believe they were, as busy cabinet holders with big responsibilities for other vital matters, they were guided into a decision.
They were simply told false information.
No one questioned the economic portfolio holder, they were simply presented with the flawed and unchanged Ben Burgess argument and swallowed it whole.
That one decision to approve yet another roundabout on the A140 for the benefit of one company, will bring the road much closer to the Swainsthorpe village homes.
It unlocks a highly contentious planning application from Ben Burgess ltd, that will destroy a 1000 year old landscape, create a dangerous bottleneck and restrict flow for the thousands of travellers from South Norfolk into Norwich on a corridor of movement, remove a valued sound bank from traffic noise, destroy ancient oak trees, hedges and habitat, disrupt land drainage, create potential pollution over natural drainage and damage the lives of a village community of 350 people for the profit of one private company.
And all against the advice of Historic England the CPRE and the laws of the land which we live by.
Now, this decision will go before the scrutiny committee of Norfolk County Council. No doubt the whip will be employed and the politicians will be encouraged to once again follow the party line blindly.
Let us hope that they do not, this is not about politics, let us hope that they say this impacts too many people, too many business, and too many lives rather just listen to the one with deeper pockets.
Let us hope that someone will be brave enough to ask two questions:
Why Swainsthorpe’s cheap agricultural fields and not a designated industrial site?
Is the Burgess threat to quit Norfolk real if he regularly makes circa £5 million net profit from Norfolk based farmers and agencies.?
The country and its people are facing difficult times and the words, selfless and care for community are valued.
This pandemic like all before it, will pass and life will go on
But what about our values will they be there when it’s all over ?

17th September 2020

Scrutiny-2

Dear Friends and supporters of the Saving Swainsthorpe Campaign.
You will have read in the EDP that the Cabinet of the Norfolk Council met on September 7th and has involved itself in the contentious planning application which Ben Burgess Ltd has made for the industrial development of agricultural land in Swainsthorpe.
The Cabinet heard that the Norfolk County Council Highways office remains opposed to the construction of a roundabout solely for the purpose of creating an access from the A140 on to the Swainsthorpe fields for Ben Burgess limited.
Despite this the Cabinet, then listened to a glowing and inaccurate presentation of the economics of Ben Burgess ltd, in which the companies Managing Director threatened to quit Norfolk if he were not given the Swainsthorpe fields for his factory. They then voted 100% to overrule the Highways safety and efficiency considerations to enable the Burgess application to go ahead and go before the South Norfolk Planning committee unhindered.
(You may hear for yourself the Cabinet meeting discussion on our Swainsthorpeplanning.com website in the campaign section titled OUTRAGE)
The village and all the many points of opposition were not raised and were completely ignored.
It was also disappointing to hear our County Councillor, Cllr Colin Foulger requesting amending the minutes in which it was written that he gave support to the Highways officers and requesting it be changed to neither support or oppose the recommendation. Suggesting that he was considering himself, rather his constituents. Cllr Foulger also refused to help us ‘call in’ the decision.
Your Saving Swainsthorpe campaign team and the Swainsthorpe Parish Council believe that Cabinet decision to be wrong and undemocratic and must be challenged.
We took our case to all the Norfolk County Council members, regardless of party, to seek sponsors for a ‘Calling in’ of that decision.
By ‘calling in’ the decision of the case will be discussed in greater detail, and the Swainsthorpe side of the argument will be heard and justification behind the Burgess economic argument properly examined.
We are pleased to report to you, that our voice was heard and the decision has been ‘called in’ by the Liberal Democrat Councillors at County Hall.
The NCC cabinet decision to allow a roundabout on the a140 solely on Burgess economic grounds has therefore not been passed (at this stage).
The question will now go before the scrutiny committee to be re-examined.
In recent days we have also received great support from Historic England, the Governments heritage watchdog and this we hope will add weight to our very strong case.
The battle is far from won however, but Swainsthorpe and its neighbouring villages, supported by the Campaign for the Protection of Rural England (Norfolk CPRE) Historic England, and thousands of supporters will fight on until this, and other villages, are protected from destruction and exploitation of their historic agricultural land.
We will not give up the fight and your support is appreciated and needed.
Your Saving Swainsthorpe Team.

11th September 2020

Hand holding black blank envelope and folded leaflet mockup

An outrage –

NCC Cabinet Monday 7th September 2020

The Norfolk County Council cabinet has overuled the May 2019 decision of its professional highways officer and has given support on behalf of Norfolk Council to the construction of a roundabout on the a140 for the exclusive use of Ben Burgess Limited.

This act paves the way for the Burgess factory to be built on the agricultural land at Swainsthorpe and the destruction of a 1000 year old landscape described this week by Historic England as an important National Heritage Location which must be preserved for future generations.

The Cabinet astonishingly confirmed the report from highways stating that this was an important corridor of movement through to Norwich from South Norfolk and that it had been recently upgraded to a major road network (MRN)

Despite reporting these clear statements relating to matters of road safety and highway efficiency to the Cabinet. The Five Cabinet members under Leader Cllr Andrew Proctor heard that if Ben Burgess was not assisted onto the Swainsthorpe fields, he had threatened to leave the county, as no other site was suitable. In other words councillors were blackmailed.

In direct response to that threat, the Cabinet overruled the highways recommendation. In effect ruling against the safety and effeciency of the many residents of south norfolk in favour of one private companies objective to profiteer from the industrialisation of important and significant agricultural land.

This decision is nothing short of outrageous and undemocratic and made without a full assessment and presentation of the complete facts of the case.

It has been handled in this manner because the applicant is being assisted by political supporters to work the system on party political grounds.
The Burgess application lacks rigour and truth and does not stand any form of professional scrutiny.
If it did we would accept the findings as the best fit for the good of all, we are not Nimby’s.

You can see for yourself on ‘you tube’ the shameful process of Norfolk County Council Cabinet 7th Sept item 14. You can also access the sound recording on our web site.

You will hear from the outset the extraordinary request at the last minute from Cllr Colin Foulger our local NCC member on the Highways committee, request to have his comments objecting to the new Burgess plan removed from the minutes, as being in error!

You will then hear councillors being told that the economic benefit of Ben Burgess outweighed that of the road safety and efficiency of the many users, business and private, who use the A140!!

Rather than help the Burgess objective it simply confirms what we have known and said all along, the Burgess plan does not stand professional scrutiny on any level and the only way that this application can get through is by threat and lies and bullying and a high level of ill-informed political support .

Even the report in the EDP states incorrectly the sequence of events, but this is not surprising, as our small village does not have an advertising budget !
The village of Swainsthorpe will stand against this behaviour and supports keeping the professional planners independence from political pressure.

In the event of approval by the Conservative Council of South Norfolk and the Conservative cabinet of NCC the campaign will consider an appeal to the local government ombudsman on the basis of mal administration and if necessary will seek a full Judicial Review of the activities of NCC and SN councils.

These expensive processes may be the only way that those responsible for the abuse of power will be brought to account and to justify their damaging and dangerous decisions.

We have a huge support base from thousands of followers as well as local Parishes, the Campaign for the Protection of Rural England (Norfolk) and Historic England.
We need your help both moral and financial to help protect our planning system and our towns villages and farms from abuse by big business.


9th September 2020

Historic

HISTORIC ENGLAND

Historic England the Governments heritage ‘watch dog’ has come to the aid of besieged Swainsthorpe by reporting strongly to South Norfolk that the fields upon which Ben Burgess Limited is planning his new personal A140 roundabout and tractor sales and service depot will irreparably damage a unique Glebe land location which has remained untouched for 1000 years.

We can do no better than quote to you their letter which supports everything that we have said on Swainsthorpe’s behalf.

“The Church’s relationship to agriculture contributes to an understanding of its place in a rural community and landscape. This association and the surviving agricultural character of the land contribute to the historic significance of the listed church”
“The proposed building would dramatically detract from the views of the church. The scale, form and materials of the proposed building would be particularly assertive and contrasting in the scenery”
“The effect would be quite profound, bringing a major and decidedly negative change to the setting of the church. Hiding the building behind bushes does not remove its impact”

“The nature of development proposed as well as the form and scale of building are themselves harmful to the significance of the Church”
“The National Planning Policy Framework identifies that heritage assets are an irreplaceable resource”

“In heritage terms we (Historic England) would not support the application”

“The applicant’s do not seem to have demonstrated that this development cannot be accommodated on areas South of Norwich. Even if this were established the need for such an avowedly alien and aggressive design of building in this rural setting is not”

“Historic England objects to the application on Heritage grounds. We consider that the application does not meet the requirements of the NPPF, in particular para’s 7,8,193 and 200”.
In determining this application you(SNC) should bear in mind the statutory duty under the listed Buildings and Conservation areas Act 1990”.

The report concludes that the Alien structures proposed by Ben Burgess are unacceptable particularly when viable industrial sites exist elsewhere. And that the proposal will cause damage to a unique norfolk landscape .

The Swainsthorpe voice may not have been heard by local government but it has been heard by Government in London and we will continue to fight with everything we have to protect our responsibility for this historic piece of Norfolk.

This is not just about Swainsthorpe, this is about our local Governments attitude to rural communities and we cannot afford to lose.


7th September 2020

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

There is a Solution

We all dislike the idea that our community is having to defend itself so vigorously from such an organised well-funded and determined challenge, but we have no choice.

Surely as rural communities and country people, a way can be found that will enhance and improve Norfolk lives without the need for conflict challenge or aggression. There are opportunities and solutions which could benefit all of us:

• Ben Burgess Ltd
• The Norfolk farming community
• South Norfolk Council
• Broadland District Council
• Norwich District Council
• Norfolk County Council
• Easton Agricultural College
• The County Road network
• Food related businesses

The publicly supported South Norfolk and Broadlands food hub is designed to create a centre for excellence for the food and farming industry. Development of the site is already underway and is being aided and fast tracked to allow businesses to make a quick and easy relocation with built in infra-structure.

It is situated on a main arterial dual carriage way which is shortly to be made into the Norwich Ring Road making it easy access for farmers and all customers from the north, south, east and west of the county who will be able to obtain all their requirements in a one-stop location.

Sitting alongside this site is the Easton Agricultural College who welcomes students. With such a close connexion, the joint training opportunities are endless with access to a broader curriculum which could work in tandem and enhance the John Deere apprenticeship scheme run by John Deere, Nottingham.

Instead of conflict and challenge there would be justified applause, the district councils would benefit from the utilisation of their flagship food hub. Ben Burgess would be rightly lauded in a high profile site with great access on a brand new location and play an important role in developing our County infrastructure and supporting young farmers of tomorrow.

Ben Burgess state they have considered this site and rejected it as it did not meet their self-selected criteria in that it is ‘10 miles from the Trowse/A47 junction’ (rather than their 4 mile criteria) and that ‘the nearest Ben Burgess dealership is less than a 30 minute drive away’. Surely these are inter-business issues that can be negotiated, managed and resolved.

If the local authorities are serious about finding them a location, then they can resolve the Ben Burgess criteria regarding availability ‘there is a Local Development Order for food related uses, so availability is unclear’ and remove any impediments.

Presumably, the Ben Burgess site constraints criteria of ‘potential contamination and land instability from historic landfill use, surface water flooding’ have been investigated by surveyors before the site was approved.

The food hub website states that there is a ‘3 acre infiltration lagoon in place plus foul water drainage, mains water supply, high speed broadband and electricity connections’.

The Norfolk food hub is the obvious solution instead of sticking their poor staff alone in an isolated field on a busy already congested A140.

So why are all the alternative sites so unappealing to Ben Burgess and why does the
Swainsthorpe site tick all their boxes?

Could there be a horse in the room?

We all know that Malthouse Farm was bought for one reason. The MD of Ben Burgess, Mr Ben Turner, said directly to South Norfolk counsellors that he wanted to go into property development and no doubt following the visits to Mr Turner at the Ben Burgess offices, Mr Fuller’s encouragement has further helped the board to conclude that they could make a real killing, by converting the old Norfolk farmhouse into dwellings and the cheap agricultural farm land north of Swainsthorpe into an industrial site.

The horse in the room is of course the Trojan horse galloping into South Norfolk District Council using the name of good old Ben Burgess and powered by the marketing might of John Deere USA. Brilliant tactic to use such a respected name to turn the planning law upside down and make a killing on land prices for its owners.

Let’s all stop a moment and think what benefit could be gained for everyone if Mr Turner and the Ben Burgess Board members were given support, encouragement and incentive, to think of the County rather than their own selfish enrichment.


4th September 2020

Uncle Ben

Strange Alien Structures

Now appearing on the contested green fields are hay bales arranged in some kind of structure reminiscent of WW1 bunkers.

What now we ask ourselves?
Are Ben Burgess Ltd eventually actually doing something for the village they plan to blight?
Are these for children to play on? To clamber about in imaginative play – maybe a fort or a castle?

Is it some kind of venue for villagers maybe a sheltered picnic spot?

Is it a viewing platform maybe to look at the lonely trees also planted (are they actually planted or in removable pots?)

But surely not
It can’t possibly be an attempt to intimidate us all; to give the impression its all a done deal and so do not bother objecting anymore.
Planting (placing) trees can’t possibly be saying I’ve started to develop the site like it or not.

Could it be some weird attempt to claim the proposed buildings are so small and insignificant they look like a stack of hay bales?

Is it to impress users of the A140 that the hay bales blend into the countryside? Haybales and countryside go together well. But how do you mock- up a roundabout with queues of cars, lorries, heavy plant all driven by angry motorists?

You will need a lot more hay bales!
Sorry Ben, we are not impressed or intimidated in fact it’s all rather amusing!


30th august 2020

Our latest 8 page newsletter with all the latest on the Ben Burgess proposal and information on how to register your comments with SNDC planning.

Web cover

Click link to view Newsletter

Swainsthorpe planning newsletter


26th august 2020

Allo

WILL NORFOLK COUNTY COUNCIL HIGHWAYS DO A U TURN ON THE ROUNDABOUT?

The people of Swainsthorpe certainly hope that Norfolk County Highways will stick to their ruling in May 2019 When Liz Poole, Major and Estate Development Team Manager recommended refusal of the proposed roundabout on the following grounds:

‘The proposed development would lead to the creation of a new access on a stretch of classified highway of nationally strategic importance which carries significant traffic movements usually at speed. Furthermore, the vehicular movements associated with the use of the access would lead to conflict and interference with the passage of through vehicles and introduce a further point of possible traffic conflict particularly with the introduction of slow moving traffic. Contrary to South Norfolk’s Development Plan Policy DM 3.11

This statement is clear and unambiguous locating the roundabout on this location was restricting the flow of traffic on the A140 and in consequence dangerous and NOT acceptable.

Having tried to relocate the roundabout on neighbouring farmland and on top of an ancient right of way at Hickling Lane in recent weeks. Ben Burgess Ltd have resubmitted the plan for the roundabout back where it started.

We read that in order to make the Ben Burgess Ltd roundabout ‘Viable’ that the Burgess planners are suggesting that Swainsthorpe Church Road and Stoke lane be prevented from turning right on entering the A140 so that the traffic is forced to use his industrial site access roundabout.

Clever Old Ben! He will probably get NCC to pay for it as a traffic calming measure, or better still pay him a fortune for the land to put it on.

We even read that compulsory purchase of property on Church Road for demolition and to create an access has been tabled.

Just how much bending over backwards has to be done to accommodate good old Ben’s plan for our community?

We do hope that the written statements of Norfolk County Highways will remain in place to keep the corridor of movement free into the City of Norwich for ourselves and our neighbouring villages on the A140.

Ben Burgess Limited are exerting all kinds of pressure on the local government departments to get their application through at the 23rd September South Norfolk Development Management committee meeting.

We are anxiously awaiting the Norfolk Count Council ruling. Will they be forced to re tract their ruling by South Norfolk Leadership?

If not will South Norfolk Leadership ignore that ruling?


21st august 2020

Listening

Betrayal of the people

The latest Ben Burgess Newsletter contains a report from Managing Director Ben Turner on the subject of his new headquarters depot at Swainsthorpe.
He tells us that after eight failed attempts elsewhere he was encouraged by the leadership of South Norfolk ( John Fuller) and the professional South Norfolk planning department to put forward plans to convert the then working Malthouse farm into an industrial complex, which will dwarf the village of Swainsthorpe.

After two years of amendments and lobbying the ‘final solution’ and much amended application has been presented to South Norfolk planners.
Mr Turner refers again to the fact that he is in Swainsthorpe because South Norfolk leadership and planners encouraged him to be here.

Can this be true?
Were the professional planners so influenced by the Turner story that they were prepared to overlook access, environmental and rural protection guidelines. We somehow doubt it, planning is a noble profession and not hijacked easily.

It is evident from the outcry from many areas, that this is far far from being a desirable planning application. It is dangerous, unsociable, unsightly, bad for the environment and its neighbours and destructive to the landscape, and all for the benefit of one privately owned business.

It has taken two years of amendment after amendment. Countless volumes of drivel and down right lies, all of which have been designed to grind down the planners and public opinion ( at tax payers expense).

Had this been a good application it would have rightly sailed through. It did not, because it is wrong and proven to be so.

With encouragement from South Norfolk leader John Fuller, Mr Turner has ‘pressed on’ to the annoyance and exhaustion of all concerned.
Despite having been rejected by Norfolk Highways, despite GNLP saying the site was not needed, despite CPRE report damning the project, despite 99% of the village signing a petition against it, despite hundreds of letters of opposition from neighbouring villages and councils.
Unwavering, Mr Turner has continued to lobby the council, all the Norfolk MP’s and continues to be supported by the leadership of South Norfolk Council.

Now the final grubby act is about to unfold.
Under the Covid 19 restrictions a small group of 5 councillors will sit and Zoom meet to decide the outcome of this extremely detailed and extensive application.

It is unlikely that they will have read the thousands of pages of the report and it is unlikely that they will defy their leader.
One would hope that the Councillors will follow the guidance of the Professional planners on whom we all rely.
We are however, left with a disturbing thought, that if, as Mr Turner keeps telling us, the Professional Planners of South Norfolk are the very people alongside John Fuller that brought him to Swainsthorpe in the first place, can the outcome be fair, democratic or right?

Will this case be judged fairly by the very people (according to Mr Turner) that are the promoters of this destructive and selfish plan?

After two years of amendments by the applicant, our Parish Council requested a month extension to evaluate the many additional volumes of text.
South Norfolk has said NO, stating that they want this application to be rushed through in the September Zoom meeting.

We hope that this denial of our rights by the Council is not a sign of what is heading our way, but it does not look good.

The Prime Minister, Rt Hon Boris Johnson MP promised us a green led revolution instead South Norfolk are supporting one covered in concrete, diesel and 30 pieces of silver.

Shame!

24th July 2020

Burgessstorm-swainsthorpe

THE GATHERING STORM

The agents for Ben Burgess Ltd have written to South Norfolk Council requesting a further extension of their planning application for the Burgess factory in the village of Swainsthorpe (ref 2631/2632) to September 2020.
Having ‘reached agreement with numerous parties’ they write that they will be presenting new ‘agreed’ and amended plans in the next 3-4 weeks.

Mr Turner has been busy lobbying Norfolk MP’s, councillors and planners and they now feel ready to make a big attempt to get this factory through planning committee.

With the shock of Covid 19 hanging in the air, and a reduced and restricted planning committee and environmental oversight, they may well believe they are presenting at a time when the planning controls are weak.
They believe that executive decision in the face of a national emergency may well be employed to overule existing planning protections.
They would be wrong.

The Government has made a commitment to a greener rebuilding, and we must ensure that this pledge is fulfilled.

The fight back against the economic catastrophe has to be made in a plan led manner not in a ‘wild west’ fashion with developers doing as they wish without oversight.
If the Government and their local District and County councils do not honour that green promise we will end up with a quality of life dictated by greed for the few instead of the good of the many.

Be in no doubt our cause is right and just.
In almost every case we have proved that the Burgess Industrialisation of Swainsthorpe is wrong.

From the environmental, social, highways and planning point of view, we are supported by friends, neighbouring villages and farms and the CPRE (Campaign for the Protection of Rural England) and even the Highways authority.

Planning law itself makes it quite clear that this plan is flawed in almost every area.
We believe that a good Barrister would demolish this application and plan if it is allowed to continue its course, and we are therefore determined to take this through to judicial review with the full backing of friends and supporters.

Despite this, the diggers continue their work on Malthouse Farm and efforts to redefine planning legislation continues behind the scenes.

We must not fail, as this is a test case upon which the Norfolk Countryside depends. If we lose this case the precedent will have been set for any developer who has the cash to buy a working farm and agricultural land and convert it to industrial use, regardless of the fact that designated alternative industrial sites remain empty and underutilised throughout Norfolk.

How many times over the last months have you said to yourself thank God we live in Norfolk, as you walk the footpaths or cycle the lanes and breath the clean unpolluted air.
Mr Andrew Proctor leader of Norfolk Council described Norfolk as ‘a world class environment’. We agree, this is a natural Paradise protected by the planning laws of the land and it is under attack.

We need to work together to defend it for the future generations who will inhabit this place long after Covid 19 and the Giant diesel powered tractors have disappeared.

The time is here for us to stand up and strengthen our planning laws and protect villages and rural Norfolk.

Swainsthorpe is a Rural Planning test case, please support us now.
If you can, please make a pledge to support the funding of our legal challenge.in this way the facts will be made public and the case decided by planning law and not behind closed doors.

16th July 2020

Keeep schtum

THE MYSTERY OF MALTHOUSE FARM

Mr Turner has been very busy surveying neighbouring land and moving tonnes of soil on the Malthouse farm – why?

Malthouse farm was a working farm producing beef, chicken, eggs, turkeys and grain and acting as steward of the land down into the Tas valley for generations.

Mr Turner has openly declared to Councillors that it is his objective to be a land developer and under Ben Burgess Ltd ownership, the farm has ceased working and work has taken place in advance of planning, without environmental or building regulation oversight.
This being sought retrospectively after habitat or structural work has been carried out or buried.
The signs of this damage are everywhere but sadly the South Norfolk Enforcement officer is as rare as the bats and farm animals on Malthouse farm these days.

Something big is taking place on Malthouse farm and it is veiled in secrecy.
We have been disappointed in Mr Turner’s habit of carrying out work then seeking retrospective approval and getting it, thus avoiding building control, oversight and approval.

Mr Turner shows scant regard for the laws that rule you and I. Is it any wonder that the good folk of Swainsthorpe fear for what he will do next with his gross plans for a factory next to people’s homes and a dangerous access on to the A140 for his heavy vehicles.

The signs of his handy work are everywhere just take a look at the deep spoil from the extensive Malthouse farm digging done in advance of planning and which was dumped on the field off Church road. This land is so spoiled with sub soil it can’t be classed as agricultural ever again, but it would make a building plot of course!

Watch this space….we are.

Quote

Since the announcement of Ben Burgess’s plans to site his flagship headquarters and factory on Malthouse Farm, Swainsthorpe we have been fighting a vigorous campaign to stop this abuse of agricultural land. We will continue until we have put a stop to this proposal once and for all. This page is being constantly updated with new articles and news.

20th March 2020

Web Burgess

UNWELL BUT NOT STUPID

Covid 19 has brought into sharp focus the importance of the natural world and the danger of abusing our eco systems. Eventually, this particular crisis WILL pass as have all the other pandemics and life will go on, we will mourn the losses, learn the lessons and work to speed economic recovery.

The biggest single lesson we must learn; is to preserve and protect our environment which brings us to our local problem. As a village we have had an industrial planning threat hanging over us for the last two years, and we are sick of it.

It has been stressful and very unpleasant but we have been heartened to have enormous active support from hundreds of people and organisations including: our and neighbouring Parish Councils, expert opinion and advocacy from CPRE, the GNLP the National Highways Authority and senior academics. What is clear is that as a campaigning group we are not being selfish, our opposition is justified, the wellbeing of all of us under threat from the destruction of countryside through industrialisation and inappropriate development.

We fear that, faced with huge financial and budgetary pressure, government at local and national level may see loosening, or loosely interpreting, current planning laws and constraints in the name of supporting business. That would be the gravest of mistakes.

Under the restrictions of Covid 19, South Norfolk District Council’s Development Management Committee have decided to hold virtual planning meetings with a reduced number of councillor members and eliminating verbal representation from the general public. Saving Swainsthorpe members observed the first virtual meeting of the committee on Wednesday 6th May and reported that the system worked well but remain concerned that members of the public were only able to observe and not participate verbally in the meeting. What was particularly encouraging was to see the Planning Officers supporting and upholding existing planning policies and the County Plan.

At the time of writing, the revised Ben Burgess Ltd. plan has not been presented. We know that its Managing Director Mr Ben Turner, has been actively lobbying for support and is envisaging a new roundabout on the A140 at Hickling Lane and Stoke Road to enable access to the agricultural fields bordering the village homes.
If an amended Burgess plan were to be submitted during the current emergency, Saving Swainsthorpe would not be able to physically attend nor be able to speak. Our objections would have to be made once again in writing, as we have already done so many, many times before.

If anyone had chosen to listen or read the powerful arguments we have already made to date, with strong valid planning objections; this application should never reach the Development Management Committee. But someone continues to give this plan support and is actively lobbying in support of the proposal. We are therefore concerned that any decision on such a large contentious application will hinge upon the decision of a smaller ‘virtual’ committee.

It is our genuine and real fear that the supporters of the ‘Burgess plan’ will use this temporary reduction in democratic oversight and the national emergency to take advantage of a reduced planning mechanism, lacking proper public scrutiny or voice, in the hope that their application could be waived through.

This will be a grave error and an abuse of planning law. We must give our maximum support to the South Norfolk Planning officers to ensure that policies are upheld.

The proposals of Ben Burgess Ltd, will not save or increase the number of jobs or facilitate economic regeneration in South Norfolk. What it will do is enrich the small group of shareholders, cause permanent damage to agricultural land and the eco systems of our village and the thousands of users of the A140 and, critically, South Norfolk taxpayers.

We may be denied our voice at this time of physical isolation but we will ensure that our voices are heard. In common with the rest of the world, the nation may be unwell but we are not stupid.


6th March 2020

Modified Power graphic

The Sword of Damocles and the Abuse of Power

Recently, representatives of the Saving Swainsthorpe Campaign attended a meeting of the Association of Local councils (ALC) at the South Norfolk Council offices. The agenda was primarily focussed on wellbeing in our local communities. No specific communities were mentioned but there was a presentation and discussion on ways to improve our communities and encourage cooperation.
Specific mention was made of issues such as transport, energy and community development, environmental pollution and mental health discussed in the context of the current draft Greater Norwich Local Plan (GNLP), the latest draft of which is out for public consultation until 5pm 16th March.
In the minds of our representatives it brought into sharp focus the lip service being paid to the wellbeing of the people of Swainsthorpe and the distress caused for almost two years by the Ben Burgess plan hanging like a ‘Sword of Damocles’ over our heads in their determination to build their headquarters and industrial units on arable farm land, that covers a larger foot print than the village.

From the outset the case against the proposed destruction of the agricultural fields and the loss of our rural environment for industrial development has been clear and contrary to planning rules relating to ‘other villages’….. but Mr Turner, MD of Ben Burgess Ltd continues to confirm his determination to build on these fields.

Despite extraordinary and valid opposition to his proposals Mr Turner continues to be allowed to pile more and more stress, anxiety and planning blight on our village, month after month and now year after year. Now, yet another extension is granted till June 2020, and the village has been forced to endure more delay, before this case is placed before the planning committee.

Why the delay? Initially it was described as necessary to re-shape the plans , but Mr Turner has used Christmas and the summer holidays to attempt to slip this awful plan through. But we remain on 24 hour, alert for such events, as we expect similar evasive attempts will be made. Are these delays designed to wear us down, or is the applicant waiting for a more advantageous moment (perhaps a fair political wind blowing through South Norfolk) to make his full application.

The failure of South Norfolk Council to put a stop to this unsound planning application which flies in the face of their own planning policies and coupled with the recently announced withdrawal from the GNLP elements dealing with ‘Village Clusters’ puts Mr Fuller’s South Norfolk ‘Breakaway Plan’ into sharp perspective.

The GNLP recorded that there was ample industrial development land available and that there was no need for further allocations. This should have been the death knell to Mr Turner’s plan to destroy Swainsthorpe. The decision by Mr Fuller, Leader of South Norfolk Council, to withdraw South Norfolk from the GNLP plan and to have its own independent policy (based upon on unrestricted development of small villages) may well be the fig leaf that Mr Turner has been waiting for.

The people of South Norfolk need to know:

· What is the additional cost of the South Norfolk Breakaway Plan ?

· How much money has already been wasted by South Norfolk by their decision to withdraw from the original GNLP which so many of us had participated in only a few months ago.

· How many of our District councillor’s voted for it, and when did any vote take place?

· Where is the democratic control on this process?

We understand that many of the sites originally dismissed will now be returned to the table under the new rules of Mr Fuller’s Breakaway plan. We wonder will Mr Turner’s Burgess company be one of them?

It feels to us that the South Norfolk rule book is quietly being re written behind our backs, particularly for all our small rural villages, and all at South Norfolk ratepayers considerable expense.

Parishes need to come together and questions need to be asked of South Norfolk, as we will all be affected !!!


3rd February 2020

GOOD NEWS!!

From the Greater Norwich Local Plan Consultation

Papers issued for the GNLP meeting held on January 6th, 2020 (available on GNLP website) the section headed South Norfolk Villages non-residential sites settlement – Long Stratton including Swainsthorpe, states:

Land West of A140 adjacent Hickling Lane Swainsthorpe
GNLP0604R
10.99
Workshops, stores, offices, agricultural sales

Response:
This site is not considered to be suitable for allocation as evidence suggests that currently committed land is more than sufficient in quantity and quality to meet the employment growth needs in Greater Norwich. There is therefore no need to allocate any additional large-scale employment sites in the new local plan. The site is also subject to a planning application by Ben Burgess agricultural machinery (reference 2018/2631) and would be better dealt with through the development management process.

The paper appears to give with one hand and then take it back by deferring to the planning application process. However, it will take a very strong argument to overcome these findings of expert reviewers. This coupled with the evidence of under-used business development sites in South Norfolk bode well for the campaign and it is an encouraging sign.


28th January 2020

Crowd of protesters people. Silhouettes of people with banners a

For the coming 8 weeks we are facing a major fight and your Saving Swainsthorpe Campaign team will need the support of everyone if we are to stop to the Ben Burgess assault on our quality of life and our countryside.
Mr Ben Turner (MD Ben Burgess Ltd) will be presenting, by the end of February, amended plans when he will no doubt be attempting to persuade planners that he has met all their requirements.
It does seem incredible that this proposal has been pursued for so long despite the objections of local landowners, neighbouring residents neighbouring villages, and countryside protection groups. Add to that the warnings from Norfolk Highways of the danger of further development on this stretch of road. Compounded by the Ben Burgess proposed development of nine dwellings at Malthouse Farm, it begins to feel like a village take-over.
Such reckless determination appears to show either great confidence in the outcome, or a reckless determination to ‘charge the guns’ of the opposition whatever the cost to him, his company irrespective or the impact on residents who are the only people that have to live with this proposal 24/7.
We are under no illusion Mr Turner is as determined as ever to have his way and will use everything and everyone at his disposal to get it. He remains determined to destroy our village and our environment to build his factory next to our homes, all for the company’s commercial gain.
No other reason makes sense when better, ideal, available alternatives are close at hand, with better bus links for his workers, infrastructure approvals, nearby shops and an immediate link on to the southern by-pass, only minutes away. The recently released Greater Norwich Development Plan (GNLP) concurs with previous reports where it states that South Norfolk has a surplus of already designated employment land. At the current rate of uptake there is enough existing employment land to meet the anticipated demands for the next 30 years!
Mr Turner attended the recent Parish council meeting and although not invited to speak, told residents after the formal meeting about how his plans for a new roundabout on the A140 was going ahead and this would unlock the objections regarding access to the fields and the proposed factory building and that residents would actually like a roundabout.
The cost of such a roundabout will be enormous and it has to be hoped that this cost (in the unlikely event that it will be built) will be borne entirely by the Ben Burgess company who will be the sole beneficiary of it, and not the taxpayers of South Norfolk.
However, the real costs will not be purely financial, they be borne by generations of the residents of Swainsthorpe; from the pollution of air, noise and light. These real costs will dwarf any of Mr Turner’s investments and probably don’t appear anywhere in his calculations.
Our current environment will be damaged forever as the concrete is poured and the light pylons are erected, and the diesel engines begin to run. The concentration of traffic and the reduction in flow as a result of the factory site and its yet to be proposed access roundabout, will have a profound effect on Swainsthorpe, the users of the A140 and all our neighbouring villages. Commuters into Norwich will have to add at least 30 minutes to their morning and evening commute, an hour a day!
So be prepared !
This company’s plans stretch the powers of understanding, responsibility, common sense and good stewardship. For the future of our village, our community and our homes, we have no choice, but to fight and win. A multitude of outspoken small voices will be heard.

WE WILL STAND FIRM


10th December 2019

Battle

The battle to save Swainsthorpe is reaching a new critical stage and taking so much of our time and limited financial resources.

The planning system is being challenged time and time again by the twisting and turning of Mr Turner and his professional consultants to build his retail outlet and engineering workshop on farm land in the village of Swainsthorpe.

He believes that he will eventually grind the South Norfolk Planners and Committee members into submission and get his way and turn agricultural land into an industrial site, and in so doing destroy ancient landscape, create a dangerous choke point on a corridor of movement.

It is a failure of National Planning that clear violations of planning law are allowed the opportunity to be presented time and time again with amendment after amendment when clear planning guidelines exist.
Mr Turner and his board may be happy to spend thousands on consultants and lawyers to overcome the rules laid down to protect our environment and to repeatedly test the planning system.
However in doing so Mr Turner and his board are costing the planning officers the councils and you and I endless hours of research to respond.

The windfall profits for him of success may justify his expenditure but there is a financial cost to us all in Mr Turner’s ambitions to industrialise Swainsthorpe.
Communities must be protected by local government from those that would destroy ancient landscape and habitat for commercial gain.

Financial ownership does not give anyone the right to destroy and pollute shared environment and it is the job of our local government to enforce and protect the law once and for all, without the fear of punitive financial challenge by wealthy applicants.
One set of rules and one law for the good of all.

We must support and strengthen the power of our planners to uphold that law and ensure that business employs its resources to enhance our shared environment not destroy it.

This is not the Amazon or the Indonesian rain forest, this is our bit of responsibility, our shared rural norfolk in the 21st century and yet we are struggling to save natural landscape ancient farmland and free flowing traffic from financial exploitation.
How dare we criticise others for their failure to stand up for the rule of law and the environment when our own laws do not have teeth and are frequently blunted by commercial interest.

We will shortly be in the hands of the South Norfolk planners and the members of the planning committee and we,along with the hundreds of protestors, neighbouring village parish councils and local farmers will be expecting our 21 st century environmental aspirations to be protected.’

2nd December 2019

Santa card-FB

Campaign update:

  • Although it’s now 18 months since Ben Burgess published it proposals and nearly a year since they applied for planning permission to create their blot on the landscape of our village and still the saga continues
  • Throughout this long period the opposition to Ben Burgess’s plans has not faltered, residents and supporters including, the Campaign for the Protection of Rural England, agree that the company’s plans are simply wrong and, if agreed by the South Norfolk District Council this development would have a devastating and wide ranging impact on our village and would produce traffic chaos on the A140 and feeder roads
  • The impact on the roads was recognised by the Highways Agency who raised significant objections to the Company’s proposed traffic entry and exit, the only proposal that the Agency saw any merit in would be the construction of a new roundabout at Stoke Lane, this proposal, solely for the benefit of one company, would be a hugely disruptive and expensive piece of civil engineering, surely there must be better ways to spend public money!
  • At the Company’s request submission of a ‘revised’ planning application has now been delayed until December 18th – it remains to be seen whether this submission arrives on that date
  • It is to be hoped that the company sees sense and abandons their plan and locates its headquarters in one of the many designated ‘employment ‘ sites in around Norwich
  • If they do submit a revised plan to South Norfolk planners then the campaign will alert everyone to the need to continue to put pressure on the process by submitting or re-submitting their objections to the revised plan and be willing to attend council meetings to raise their voice in support of our village.

THANK YOU FOR YOUR CONTINUING SUPPORT


12th November 2019

Christmas application

CAMPAIGN UPDATE
We are fast approaching another major milestone in our campaign to protect our village from industrialisation by the Ben Burgess Company.

As you may be aware from the South Norfolk District Council’s website page, an extension has been granted for the ‘determination date’ from 23rd September to 18th December to allow for:
‘reviewing the overall proposal as part of the addendum package including the feasibility of further radical changes’ – James Garnham (consultant working for Ben Burgess Ltd)

Consequently, unless they work quickly there is no chance of it going to the South Norfolk Development Management Committee (planning) meeting scheduled for 11th December 2019 so why submit these ‘radical changes’ eight days later? Are we in for yet another application buried in Christmas time when we are all distracted and unlikely to respond?

This cheap manoeuvre didn’t work last year and will not work this year either. The people of Swainsthorpe are united in their opposition to the siting of this development no matter how it is radically changed, tweaked and finessed, it is simply in the wrong place. The only sensible ‘radical’ decision would be to pick it up ‘oven ready!’ and place it on one of the designated employment sites designed to support all the needs of this development.

So, what can you do now?
We have a general election on December 12th there is now no better time to get politician’s attention on constituency issues. Contact the offices of all the parties and register the concerns. Mention the Saving Swainsthorpe campaign, the need to safeguard our countryside and the environment from purely profit driven proposals and the solidarity of opposition to the Ben Burgess Plans. If you are at public events or in conversation with canvassers or party activists raise the concerns with them – powerfully!

Constituency office contacts (currently available) are:
Conservative party office@snca.org.uk 01508 333100
Liberal Democrat party r.carden@btinternet.com 01986788297
Labour party snlabourparty@gmail.com 07920257943


26th September 2019

Magic

Ben’s Magic Roundabout.

I am of a generation who remembers the children’s programme ‘The Magic Roundabout’ where good always comes through in the end. I expect Mr Turner and his Board of Directors are the same generation too. Mr Turner has certainly had our village spinning around in circles as his applications to change the use of Malthouse Farm and its agricultural land continue to challenge the quality of life in Swainsthorpe.

He now says that his roundabout plan for Swainsthorpe and the A140 is a ‘done deal’? This roundabout will enable him to access the 35 acres of farming land adjacent to the homes in the village, to create an industrial and retail site bigger than the village foot print. It would completely and utterly result in the redefining of Swainsthorpe and make it part of his industrial complex.

We would love to know who has made such an assurance to Mr Turner to inspire such confidence in a plan which defies all the planning rules for such developments. Perhaps the same person that Mr Turner tells us suggested Swainsthorpe was suitable for industrialisation 6 years ago.

What could be more benign, than a roundabout i hear you ask.
Think again, Dear reader!

Imagine yet another roundabout added onto the already ‘roundabout riddled’ A140 between here and Diss, think of the delays in and out of Norwich and the minutes added to your morning commute.

Imagine the destruction to the local landscape on the edge of the Tas valley.

The Burgess Team have been very active in producing artists impressions of their factory, hiding their industrial building behind trees, and minimising the views of the 1000 year old village behind it.So in the spirit of fairness and balance we have tried to show you what this really means. We have overlaid aerial photographs of the Hempnal roundabout works on to the proposed area of the Burgess roundabout at Stoke and Hickling lanes.You can see from this image the reality of works of this scale.

Imagine – The collateral damage to countryside and wildlife – it is immense. We have shown the footprint of the damage caused by this work and also a small part of the land levelling and grading that will follow. The loss of ancient Oaks and hedges and habitat.

Imagine – the cost to the infrastructure of the A140, and the villages of Swainsthorpe and others down the road.

Imagine – the foul drainage needed to support more than 100 people and the industrial cleaning. The land drainage infrastructure, the disruption to the fibre-optic broadband networks serving the villages on the A140; the power lines and networks and site illumination. Plus all the electrical, water and sewerage substations. Will this be at our cost too?

And all for what – one private company, 6 private shareholders to access and change the planning status of Food Producing Farm Land to Industrial, and in the process make huge untaxed windfall profits.

It may be the ‘Magic Roundabout’ for the directors of Ben Burgess Ltd if the project gets the go ahead, but for the people of South Norfolk who rely on this corridor of movement, it will
be an expensive disaster making the A140 into an extremely difficult, and increasingly dangerous route.

For the people of Swainsthorpe it will be the ugly polluting ‘Trojan Horse’ that allows this appalling scheme to destroy this ancient Norfolk village.

We will be hoping that Norfolk Highways and the National Highways agency will protect this ‘corridor of movement’ into Norwich and NOT provide the excuse to Mr Turner to complete his destruction of our village community.

Perhaps good, will indeed come through in the end, and Mr Turner will keep on turning around his magic roundabout and take a responsible step to place Ben Burgess Limited onto designated industrial development land where the business can grow and prosper for many years to come.


21st September 2019

The Thin End of the Wedge.

Aquired by Burgess-WP

The Saving Swainsthorpe campaign taken in isolation may not be considered important to many people.
It is a small Norfolk village fighting a big determined developer and it is a story seen over and over again throughout East Anglia and the country as a whole.

This is however different, this application is the setting of a new precedent

In this case the developer has deliberately purchased a farm with the full intention of developing it for other uses. In this case industrial engineering, housing and retail.
This quite literally is the’ thin end of a wedge’ which if successful will be a precedent and will open the flood gates throughout the rural landscape for the loss of farms and farming land. The country cannot afford to lose productive land, it cannot afford to lose habitat, it cannot afford to lose the eco-systems that create the balance that keeps our environment healthy and the wellbeing of those that inhabit it.

We are quick to criticise other areas of the world for not looking after their rural landscape, whilst failing to protect our own.

The Campaign for the Protection of Rural England (CPRE) has been a tremendous support and valued defender of the countryside. They have written an extensive report in support of Swainsthorpe and against its Industrialisation.
Swainsthorpe may appear a small issue to the Politicians, but we are fighting for something far bigger. We are fighting for the future of the towns and villages and the wellbeing of all.

Most of all we are fighting for the Town and Country Planners to be given teeth so that they can fight on behalf of villagers and rural communities to resist commercial pressure from developers with big pockets and the politicians trying to balance short term accounts.

In the words of Mr Andrew Proctor the Leader of Norfolk Council, ‘we live in a world class environment’. Our Country and County is rich in God given assets and we rely upon our planners and politicians to protect the wellbeing and environment now and for future generations.

Let us be clear the Ben Burgess factory is for today’s technology, who knows where we will be in 20 years time when the diesel tractors have gone and the petrol machinery no longer need maintenance. It will be a different world.
One thing we do know is that if this factory is built, the Swainsthorpe Fields that have been producing for 1000 years will be destroyed forever.

Small campaigns have a habit of growing into something far bigger and more important in the countryside. And whilst our Campaign team does not wish to emulate the fate of Robert Kett or Watt Tyler we would like to hope that Saving Swainsthorpe will become the axiom upon which rural communities may challenge the right of developers to destroy our rural environment.


19th September 2019

NOT ANGRY JUST SAD

Ben T- Modified

Walking in the village we saw an extraordinary sight; it was a male driving what looked like a brand-new shiny tractor, he was dressed in shirt and tie with a face like thunder. On second glance we realised it was non other then Ben Turner the managing director of Ben Burgess Ltd. Why we asked ourselves is he driving a tractor and looking so cross?

Later we learnt that his sole purpose for driving the tractor was to plough up the permissive path running alongside the railway across the arable green fields on which he wants to create his 11.51 ha site. There was no mistaking his intent, as the fields had previously been harvested leaving a wide margin as has been the practice for many years.

Why would he jump up from a desk grab a tractor drive to Swainsthorpe and plough up the one and only social amenity mentioned in his planning application? It can’t be to prepare the ground for a country stewardship agreement because the margins of the field must be left untouched.

Surely it can’t be a fit of pique or some spiteful revenge because the people of Swainsthorpe are not supporting his plans. This is a grown man not a child he is the managing director of a prestigious business, but just in case it was a stupid act let’s get something straight.

You are taking your anger out on the wrong people.
It is NOT the fault of Swainsthorpe residents that you bought Malthouse Farm and its land in 2016, possibly with some tacit agreement that there would be no problem for your development. Neither Swainsthorpe Parish Council or Swainsthorpe residents were approached or knew anything of your plans, or we could have told you then, we would not be able to support them.

It is NOT the fault of Swainsthorpe residents that your self-inflicted criteria for identifying a suitable site are so stringent it renders finding a suitable site impossible.

It is NOT the fault of Swainsthorpe residents that South Norfolk District Council, Norfolk County Council and all the land agents could not come up with an alternative site that suited you.

It is NOT the fault of Swainsthorpe residents that the A140 is a corridor of movement, exceedingly busy at certain times of day and destined to become busier because of all the housing developments along its length.

It is NOT the fault of Swainsthorpe residents that the Highways Authority have deep concerns about the access to and from your proposed site.

It is NOT the fault of Swainsthorpe residents that you want to build on arable green fields, covering them in concrete forever.

It is NOT the fault of Swainsthorpe residents that they wish to protect their village and surrounding environment. That they care about the wildlife and country rhythms which they do not wish to see destroyed.

It is NOT the fault of Swainsthorpe residents that Hickling Lane and the fields adjoining are sites of historic and archaeological interest.

It is NOT the fault of Swainsthorpe residents that where you have chosen to put your development obscures and detracts from the views of the ancient Church of St Peter.

It is NOT the fault of Swainsthorpe residents that they will fight for the protection of their village and other Norfolk villages under similar threats.

We could go on and on but hopefully you will have got the message by now that

IT IS NOT THE FAULT OF SWAINSTHORPE RESIDENTS THAT YOU HAVE CHOSEN THE WRONG PLACE FOR YOUR DEVELOPMENT, SO WHY TAKE YOUR ANGER AND FRUSTRATION OUT ON DOG WALKERS, THE ELDERLY, CHILDREN AND FAMILIES THAT HAVE BEEN ENJOYING THIS PERMISSIVE PATH FOR YEARS.

Why as a responsible managing director did you shoot yourself in the foot in showing the residents of Swainsthorpe and the planning committee that you had no intention of maintaining the permissive path? Now with this one selfish act, how can anyone believe anything in your planning application or have any faith in you as a local landowner.

So, Ben Turner we are not angry just sad.


16th September 2019

COMING SOON…

‘The Magic Roundabout’


2nd September 2019

TURNING PLOUGHSHARES INTO WEAPONS.

Plough

There is something very wrong with our countryside planning when we have to fight so hard to save it from exploitation. The struggle that we are having in Swainsthorpe against a determined developer (Ben Burgess Ltd) has been out of all proportion. It is little wonder that the Norfolk that we love is being eroded; the odds are stacked against the defenders of the countryside from the outset.

Most ordinary village people want to concentrate on living their lives, bringing up their children and looking after the elderly. This is community, this good neighbourliness. This is the social glue and magic of community that creates wellbeing.

We should not have to be the ultimate defenders of the environment, this has to be in the hands of those we entrust and fund with power and technical resource in local government.

We do not expect the Tribes of the rain forest of Brazil on their own to prevent its destruction, we expect governments to act on their behalf. And so it is with the rural villages of Norfolk.

Our planners and politicians are there to protect the greater good and oversee the precious resources with which we are entrusted. In particular they are there for the overall welfare of our South Norfolk Community

Here in Swainsthorpe we are not threatened by forest fires like Brazil, but we do face something equally destructive to our village and our wellbeing. Wellbeing is increasingly not a word used in our modern planning considerations. We have no department for wellbeing but we do have them for economic development, human welfare it seems is secondary to economics.


27th August 2019

Malthouse Farm further development:

A special meeting of our Parish Council was held last week to discuss yet another application for the development of Malthouse farm by Mr Ben Turner on behalf of Ben Burgess Limited.

The details of this application for 5 more houses to be used for rental purposes speak for themselves. Mr Turner admitted that further applications for the development of more houses on this site would follow and so the planning system is being drip fed bit by bit with more and more development. This cynical approach means that each small application eventually leads to a large one which on its own would never have been approved.

This is misleading, clever, or dishonest depending upon your viewpoint, but what we would argue is that it is designed to avoid scrutiny and control. We have already seen retrospective planning applied to this development and work taking place without the proper environmental impacts being considered. It is as always, brutal, inadequate and without regard to the professional planners of South Norfolk.

But most of all it is without regard for the wellbeing of those that will live in those houses directly on to the A140, the users of the A140 and the people of Swainsthorpe. This will be a dangerous place to live when so many residents have only their cars as a means to vacate the site. Therefore marooned unless they take their life in their own (or their children’s} hands and attempt to walk up the side and cross the A140)

Mr Turner told the Parish Council that these building were redundant; indeed they are since he has owned them but they were not 5 years ago when this was a working farm. They could have been working again. This is grade A land on the Tas valley; this is an appalling abuse of resource, landscape and environment for commercial gain.

Footpaths:

Remember the circular footpath much used by dog walkers that would continue to run alongside the railway and the back of the proposed new HQ for Ben Burgess Ltd? Clearly marked in the planning application (2018/2631) – say goodbye to it. Mr Ben Turner made it clear that he intends to remove it under the guise of EU environmental protection and if this fails will ‘plough it up’ so much for respecting residents of Swainsthorpe and their access to any amenity. This clearly shows the approach this organisation intends to take to residents of Swainsthorpe. Another example was when the footpath warden asked if a permissive path would be developed from the back of the Malthouse Farm development down to the River Tas (readers may recall the previous owners of Malthouse Farm had guided walks here) the answer from Mr Ben Turner was a firm ‘NO!’.

Mr Turner’s Ben Burgess is doing what we always expected and the much trumpeted amenity footpath in their factory application has disappeared, along with the bats and wildlife on Malthouse farm.

Mr Turner said on arrival at the Parish Council meeting ‘We have come along to spoil your fun.’ Footpaths, wildlife and wellbeing – he is certainly spoiling a lot more than ‘fun’ in Swainsthorpe!


27th August 2019

MALTHOUSE FARM – MORE HOUSES PLANNED!

URGENT ACTION NEEDED!
Time to make your voices heard again

Not content with his planning permission to convert the farmhouse and erect one more house on the site, Ben Turner is now applying to convert all the old agricultural buildings into FIVE MORE HOUSES.

Ten dwellings generate a minimum of 60 vehicle movements per day to and from the A140.

The parish council has already objected strongly that no ecology survey was done before the renovation of the main part of the farmhouse , only when signs of bats were found in the old part of the building. That survey said the chances were that the roosts were in the barns.
There is no ecology survey with this new application to renovate those barns.
Huge earthworks were undertaken previously without planning permission and may already have caused ecological destruction.

Nor is there a contaminated land assessment.
Nor is there proof that these buildings are not viable for agricultural use, as required.

This development is once again outside of development boundaries, contrary to policy.

Mr Turner and his development company are again showing contempt for the rules and contempt for this village. They seem to think they are outside the law.

The Parish Council is holding a planning meeting in the church on Thursday 29th August at 7:30pm

Please make your objections known on line at South Norfolk Planning.

The application number is 2019/1641.


27th August 2019

THE SILENCE OF THE LAMBS !

Field of Dreams

“All the things Bright and beautiful all creatures great and small”. In the words of that lovely hymn, this is a wonderful time of year when nature’s bounty is in the hedgerows and fields around us and we can celebrate the gifts that we have been given.

The Swainsthorpe fields have been bountiful for 1000 years yielding crops to feed our nation.

Malthouse farm to which these fields attached has given us excellent beef, chicken, eggs and Turkeys too. How sad we have been to see this go under new ownership, and production stop and be replaced by concrete mixers.

Now in the continued march of Mr Turner’s Ben Burgess Company, the very fields of Swainsthorpe have been earmarked for destruction and industrialisation. Malthouse Farm will cease to exist.

These images of the harvest are not historic, they are Swainsthorpe NOW. This is a NORFOLK harvest coming in this week from the very land that Mr Turner believes he has a right under ownership to destroy. We are all guardians for a very short time on this earth and we have a duty to our children to protect and not destroy.

The people of Swainsthorpe have been asking for more than a year for the Ben Burgess Company to give up their plans for this wholesale destruction of countryside and move to a designated industrial location assisted by South Norfolk District Council. These poorly constructed and brutal plans break every objective of modern planning law, and we must support our Council officers to resist commercial and political pressures.

If we want a country worth living in, people and nature must be respected. It’s what our planning laws are designed for. They are not barriers designed to be tested, manipulated and challenged by developers threatening appeal and financial burden on those that stand in their way.

The late Mr Ben Burgess the founder of the Company was a great man and highly respected. We are not in conflict with agricultural engineering which is a noble profession, but this crushing and brutal drive at all cost to establish this dealership here is fundamentally wrong, and everyone knows it.

Today on Malthouse farm Swainsthorpe, the cattle may have stopped lowing, the chickens may have stopped laying and the Turkeys may have stopped Gobbling and the Harvester now silent after its work has been done.
Silence is however not an option for the residents of Swainsthorpe and the users of the A140.

We will not be silenced in the defence of Swainsthorpe and all that it stands for; we will continue to protest at the industrialisation and permanent destruction of this working farm.

SWAINSTHORPE WILL NOT GO QUIETLY LIKE A LAMB TO THE SLAUGHTER!


7th August 2019

Still under siege

Siege

August 2019-One year on and still the village of Swainsthorpe remains under siege.

Mr Ben Turner and his Ben Burgess Company continue to plan to industrialise the agricultural fields bordering the A140 and the ancient community of Swainsthorpe.
The threat posed by this planning application has blighted our lives since the objectives of Mr Turner were made public in the spring of 2018.

We hear that he still plans to take his application to the committee in September despite the negative views of Norfolk highways and the environmental bodies.
We hear that he is producing yet more amended plans to add like sticking plasters to his wounded scheme, and No doubt once again we will have limited time to react to these manoeuvring’s.
So more work, more study for the village and the poor planners.

Why is our District Council not strong enough to say NO to this appalling scheme, and help move this application to a planned industrial development site?
Instead it is allowing this application to proceed despite so much public outrage against it. This proposal will damage so many for the benefit of the few.

The village of Swainsthorpe has been struggling with this for over a year and the surrounding Parishes and users of the A140 have made it abundantly clear that we do not want this factory in this sensitive and difficult location.

9 Parish Councils using the A140 for access to Norwich are against this application and hundreds of free independent letters of opposition have been written. Yet the interests of one company and six private shareholders trump all other democratic interests. Our combined rates are considerable and we do wonder what it is that makes the interest of this one company so important, when so many practical, sensible and planned alternatives exist.

More than 2000 regular followers of our campaign also watch with interest and curiosity at the way Mr Ben Turner continues to press his case with such confidence in the outcome when so much seems to say this is environmentally legally and civically wrong.

The irony and curiosity is made even more infuriating when one sees the billboards opposite Tesco with invitation to business to purchase industrial land close to the Ipswich road roundabout. A site large enough to match the size of the Swainsthorpe fields, with bus station hub links next door, shops and canteen facilities, and easy access on to the A140 and southern by pass yards from the site. This high profile site is even closer to their existing site, not bordering habitation and little less than 2 miles from the Swainsthorpe ‘protected’ productive agricultural land and village.

If this applicant is allowed to fly in the face of the planning laws and destroy this village, this environment, this countryside, principally for planning gain, he will not only have destroyed forever this place but also the laws that have been put in place to protect our environment our communities and infrastructure. Laws made by professional planners to protect Norfolk.

A dam will indeed be breached if we fail to stop this. It will be much more than Swainsthorpe that is lost. It will be open season for rural South Norfolk and we will all be flooded by inappropriate profit led development.
We must all act and act now, we will not give up this fight we owe it to the environment and future generations of Norfolk people.


31st May 2019

Dawn Chorus

A member of The Brooke Village page has commented to say the following:In case you are not aware. An adult bird goes back to the same location to lay its eggs. When these hedges and trees are removed not only have we lost the beauty but we have also lost plants that help with the Co2 in the air… not content with that we also lose a year supply of fledglings as the females ingest their eggs, they do not move on for another year… That is a terrible knock-on effect that nature can never make up.


31st May 2019

** STOP PRESS ** STOP PRESS ** STOP PRESS**

Cars

 

The planning application submitted by the Ben Burgess Company to South Norfolk Planning department has been awaiting a report from Highways reference access to and from the proposed Ben Burgess Factory Site in Swainsthorpe.

This report has now arrived and it states that they are NOT happy with the proposal for a roundabout at the southern end, close to the village, nor are they happy with an additional ghost island as a means of access to the site.

Ben Burgess Limited may now be examining the feasibility of a 5 exit roundabout off Hickling Lane and Stoke road. Hence the lads with the theodolite recently seen surveying the location!

Watch out South Norfolk Planners, more paperwork is on the way!!!

It is likely that this Highways comment on the current plan for access to the site will significantly delay the application. We do however expect the unexpected with this application and will remain vigilant until the countryside and our local heritage is secure.

The Saving Swainsthorpe Campaign team will remain active on behalf of the village and the local area.

Should an emergency planning meeting be brought forward a notice will also be posted on this Facebook page and our Twitter feed. If you are on our email contact list, you will be notified by email directly.

This enormous structural engineering endeavour and disruption to village life and the lives and business users on the A140 beggars belief, just for the benefit of one private company.


30th May 2019

ENJOY THE VIEW, 1000 YEARS UNCHANGED UNTIL 2019?

field 2field-1

Driving back to Swainsthorpe yesterday evening I was struck by the fact that this view is likely soon to disappear. I stopped and pulled into the old Roman road (Hickiing lane) so that I might share a couple of pictures with you.

The fields producing food in the foreground will be converted into concrete, steel and machinery within months. The old established trees will be gone and replaced by industrial advertising. The high banks bordering the road, which currently act as a noise barrier, will be levelled to make way for a roundabout to serve the industrial site.The ancient hedges and trees dividing the two fields will be grubbed out and the trees felled.

I hear that the surveyors have been out with their theodolites taking measurements within the last few days preparing yet more plans. More plans and more amendments to present to South Norfolk Planners in an attempt to bury the poor souls in information. I do hope the SNP have good recycling facilities, the weight of the documents from Ben Burgess that we have to wade through has been extraordinary.

The Burgess consultants joked that they would ruin our Christmas with all the reading that we would have to do. How wrong, we love a good read in Swainsthorpe albeit science fiction! We have analysed every last word, I doubt however that the Planners feel the same but still nobody in authority says this has gone on long enough.

Our planning laws must be strengthened and planners supported if we are to fulfil the ideals that are so often spoken. Green countryside, protected landscapes, managed environments, these are not empty words. These are what we vote for in the 21st century. The average person wants to enhance and protect our rural places, not to exploit and destroy them. The world is changing and we demand better.

Using tax payer’s money the County of Norfolk has created sites and space for industry and we have an unused surplus, Burgess Limited should be helped and encouraged on to them

The Leader of Norfolk County Council, Mr Andrew Proctor recognises ‘that Norfolk is a world class environment’. Let us join him in ensuring that these high ideals are supported.

These images show the last crop unless you act and make your voice heard. Do not leave it to others. The Burgess team are still very active building their case for the destruction of our village.

We have no time to waste, and there is so very much at stake. This precious Norfolk landscape must be saved. This case is important for all our rural villages and spaces.


30th May 2019

Grave

To Directors of Ben Burgess Ltd and their political supporters

It’s time to listen
• 9 Parish councils on the A140 object to your plans
• 98% of the residents of Swainsthorpe object to your plans
• 400 letters of complaint have been written against your plans
• The Campaign for the Protection of Rural England (CPRE Norfolk) objects to your plans
• Countless planning laws and precedents are contrary to your plans
• Common sense objects to these plans
• Nature itself objects to these plans!

So many people including, academics, environmentalists, professional and local people have written thousands of words against your plan; all of which have been given freely and without charge, by contrast, your consultants have been paid ‘to fit a square peg into a round hole.’ Their contribution to your planning application makes a mockery and flies in the face of logic and wider planning objectives. The only sense it makes is that your plans provide very cheap mis-use of productive agricultural land, is this really all that matters to you?

Your plans, without political support from leaders of South Norfolk District Council, would have been turned down at the pre-application stage of development.

But remember, as Abraham Lincoln said ‘you can fool all of the people some of the time and some of the people all of the time, but you cannot fool all of the people all of the time.’

This travesty has gone on long enough, and the Board of Ben Burgess should recognise the anger this has caused and realise that this will never be right and the controversial site will remain a constant problem for you, a thorn in the company’s side and a catastrophe for Swainsthorpe and users of the A140.

Remember also that a reputations take a long time to nurture but can be very easily destroyed. If your plans are implemented Ben Burgess and, by implication the John Deere brand, will become known as the companies that ruined and re-defined our village and our daily lives, purely for commercial gain and corporate vanity. If your plans are implemented, the ‘Burgess blockage’ and the ‘John Deere’ delay will become descriptors of the daily A140 commute.

We cannot and will not give up the resistance to your plans, we live here! So this level of conflict can and will only get worse.

The destruction of a 1000 year old village will have a large advertising sign above it, measuring 38 ft long and illuminated like a fairground, additionally there will be 23 ft. high flags with banners saying John Deere now lives here. They will be illuminated 24/7 destroying the night sky. Surely, Norfolk is worth more than that. If this goes through no village will be safe and a precedent will be set.

We ask again for the Board of Ben Burgess to show wisdom and respect village life upon which the agricultural community of Norfolk is based and through which your company earns its living. Please reconsider and choose the responsible path and site your new headquarters on a dedicated industrial site provided by the District Council.

If you listen and do this you will be applauded and respected for your action and responsibility in preserving a rural landscape and farming community, not least by the villagers and villages and towns in Norfolk.


27th May 2019

THE ANGRY DAWN CHORUS OF SWAINSTHORPE

Dawn Chorus

I awoke early this morning.
The threat to our village is weighing heavily on my mind.
Nobody is listening to our case and little Swainsthorpe’s fate lies in the hands of Ben Burgess Limited and his supporters who have had years to prepare their assault on Swainsthorpe and an endless budget.
With Burgess Directors writing they have ‘the Councils Blessing’ to develop an industrial site on agricultural land in Swainsthorpe things appear to be already decided and look bleak.

Ben Burgess Limited is able to spend 10’s of thousands on his planning consultants and advisors to interpret the rules and convince a pro development South Norfolk Planning committee that his plan is good for South Norfolk and Swainsthorpe.

We have little to protect us, our voice alone, is just 300 souls.

As I pondered this, thousands of voices were raised outside.
Voices that share our village life, clean air and night sky, trees and hedgerows. Voices who will also be silenced by the Burgess industrial site with its 24 hr light pylons and flags, and industrial activity and detritus.
It was of course our wonderful dawn chorus, those thousands of wildlife residents that these plans also threaten.

This morning they sound as if they are not singing but protesting at the loss of their environment to the march of industry on our shared rural landscape home. WAKE UP RURAL NORFOLK !!!

Next time you pass through Swainsthorpe, look across at the ancient hedges that divide the fields and the trees that surround the site, the Oaks, the Ash, the Chestnuts, they are all homes just as much as yours.
If Ben Burgess Limited Directors have their way within weeks they will all be gone, roadside banks ripped apart, hedges grubbed out, trees felled, and thousands of tonnes of concrete steel buildings and new roadworks closer to the residents.

The night sky lost, the owls no longer quartering, the Kites no longer calling, the black birds and song birds silent. Replaced only by industrial buildings, and imported foreign hardware and the steady thrum of diesel from the factory and workshops and the blocked A140 as people try to negotiate through the ‘Burgess Bungage’ and ‘John Deere delay’ on the Burgess roundabout – or block the country roads to seek alternative routes.

If Swainsthorpe dies, it will be our fault. We will not have spoken loudly enough.

This application sets a nationally important planning precedent for the future of all England’s rural places. Rural England must be protected. It is each generations responsibility to the next.

Our Grandchildren will have no countryside if you do not join us to create our own dawn chorus screeching NO. This development must not happen.
Your village will be open season to the next developer if we do not give strength to our planning officers. You could be next.

In a final note of bloody irony it is 5am my phone dings it’s a message from a friend –

Had I seen the planning application 2018/1318 for our neighbouring village of Flordon?

They face a similar development which is causing distress to residents and damage to their environment.
It speaks of heavy Lorries, broken promises, background noise pollution disturbed residents. Ground levelling works lorry loads of hardcore, earth banks, damage to a special site of scientific interest.

It talks of damage to the very sensitive eco system and the free movement of indigenous fauna.
It talks of increased use of mains water for washing down equipment and discharge of waste water affecting the area Hydrology .
It talks also of the working hours being abused.

The letter so comprehensive in its objection struck great sympathy for the distress it was causing our friends and neighbours in lovely Flordon. It could easily have been written for Swainsthorpe.

The letter of objection was written by a Mr Peter Lockhart, who happens to be the Depot Director and Board member of Ben Burgess Limited, the very company making the decisions to carry out the self-same acts of destruction upon his neighbours in Swainsthorpe.
We have sincere sympathy for Mr Lockhart and his family.

This distress is invading our homes too with the Ben Burgess Limited plans and takes away peace from our lives.
It does come over as a rather selfish and hypocritical position to take, on one hand to save his environment and the other to participate in the decision to destroy ours.
For what – the profit of 6 shareholders and an American Multi National company.

Let’s hope that the Dividends from the profits of the destruction of Swainsthorpe make it worth it, Mr Lockhart.

At your next Board meeting under’ any other business’ dare I suggest you table a motion – Do unto others as you would have done unto you.
Please lets share our countryside, manage and protect it, it is priceless and fragile.
For the good of us ALL!

Saving Swainsthorpe Campaign


23rd May 2019

Fuller


29th April 2019

Hell


27th April 2019

Precious little time for Swainsthorpe.

We are aware of the heavy work load of the council in handling planning matters and that representations to the committee have to be time limited.

The fate of a 900 year old Norfolk Village is, however, far too important to leave it to 5 minutes in a public meeting.

To decide the fate of a village like Swainsthorpe and causing it’s community such anxiety for the last 12 months and to lose it’s identity is a responsibility that deserves more.

The peaceful village life for 360 souls will be exchanged for the financial benefit of 6 private shareholders and a foreign company who will take 80% of the turnover outside of the UK.

Is our natural asset, history and heritage worth just 5 brief minutes of South Norfolk Council’s time?


21st March 2019

munch


4th March 2019

LET’S GET REAL

Factory.jpg
The artists impression of the Ben Burgess site from their planning application, is not only farcical it is also an insult to the Planners and Councillors to whom it has been sent.

Let’s be honest, agricultural engineering is a noble profession. But, it is heavy engineering, big wheels, big diesels and big kit of all kinds.

Hiding it behind a bush doesn’t make it any less industrial, smelly, noisy or mechanical.

Mr Turner continues to take Swainsthorpe and the District Council for fools, confident in the belief that his business rates will be so important he can write his own ticket.

The ongoing contempt and manipulation by Ben Burgess Limited of the planning system and the Councillors continues, from Malthouse farm to the fields by the village with little care for the rules and even less for the people of Swainsthorpe.


28th February 2019

Digging the Dirt

Farm-2

Farm-1

Six months after being stopped by Planning Officers for carrying out unauthorised earthworks on the Malthouse Farm site, Ben Burgess Limited have now decided to put in a retrospective planning application.

After tons of concrete have been poured and hundreds of tons of subsoil removed, the application does not address why, or what they are up to?

So we ask – is this part of a further industrialisation process of Swainsthorpe?

Mr Turner, Managing Director of Ben Burgess Ltd told our Parish Council the following,

It was:
1. A levelling exercise.
2. Hay storage.
3. Ground source heat pump.

3 very different reasons.

Would it be unreasonable to be told the truth, or will this jeopardise the Burgess strategy for the forthcoming planning meeting?

Without permission, work started here in May 2018. It was reported to the planning department of South Norfolk council on two separate occasions by the Parish Council. On the second occasion work was halted (too late) after many tons of concrete had been placed

We note; that tons of subsoil have been taken from the site and dragged through the village only to be dumped on a public footpath rendering it unusable. This has had to be reported to Norfolk county council on two occasions.
We note: the loss of habitat on the Malthouse farm site through removal of buildings infrastructure, was this to avoid awkward questions maybe about bats?

The residents of Swainsthorpe are angered by the way that Mr Turner appears to be above the law in South Norfolk and likes to give the impression he has inside influence and will get what he wants.

Ben Burgess Limited interprets land stewardship and good neighbourliness entirely differently to us it seems.

The photos show the site before and after earth movements that have taken place. Make no mistake the amount of earth and soil removed, without permission, is extreme.


25th February 2019

LOVE LETTERS TO SWAINSTHORPE

We are struck by the quality and passion of the letters of opposition to the Ben Burgess Ltd Plan for Swainsthorpe and hope when the time comes for analysis that the Councillors and Planners read them!

If the statements are simply weighed in, they will miss the fact that all the letters FOR the application do not mention Swainsthorpe at all.
They do rightly say Burgess needs a new HQ, and we agree, that is not in contention.

By contrast, the defence of the village and opposition comes from villagers directly attacked by this plan.
People who will lose the night sky to Burgess security lighting and advertising; who lose the peaceful mornings as the 120 cars arrive for work ; as the tractors cough in to life; as the engines get tested and the engineers knock and grind their ploughshares into another working day. The people whose homes look out upon these now open fields, and rural life.

These letters are backed by learned authorities, who believe that this is wrong and against all that planning law and society wants. They are placing weight and knowledge and moral authority behind this objection.
Our cause is right, not just for Swainsthorpe, but the whole of South Norfolk, and for Norfolk in general.

The threat to our county has never been greater and amazingly, it is a threat from within by those giving lip service to quality of life and care for our landscape and environment, using political aspiration to reshape our county.
Based on these short term political objectives such careless policies are a permanent, ‘road to ruin’ and unsustainable short term fixes. We must have the courage to say STOP.

The response from the General Public to this plan has been uplifting.
Despite the difficulty of access to South Norfolk’s badly organised internet portal, determined people have written with passion and intelligence against this Burgess plan.
When added to the GNLP letters, which also refer to the Burgess industrialisation, more than 300 letters have been sent from concerned Norfolk people against this

Letters written by young and old willingly, and independently, without pressure or persuasion because they are deeply offended.
This by contrast to the SUPPORTERS, who are paid employees or beneficiaries of financial gain from the applicant, and under written request to write support, in an attempt to drown out the anguished voice of residents

The politicians would do well to read the objections before they ‘wave this through’ and to note that this opposition comes from hundreds of free thinking people and residents located in the village and A140 corridor. Doctors, Nurses, Police, teachers, farmers and landowners, businessmen and woman and of course everyone a voter.

We are very very angry indeed that South Norfolk Council has allowed our lives to be turned upside down. Our environment is being threatened by a misguided thoughtless and greedy executive decision from a rich private limited company, to destroy a working farm and our lives in the village of Swainsthorpe.

The Leader of South Norfolk Council has a duty to us all and has failed notably in protecting the welfare and wellbeing of its citizens here.
This land is protected by enough of his own policies and moral, environmental values, to have had choked this idea at birth.
Why wasn’t that done?
We will never give this fight up, no stone will be left unturned, and we will never allow this destruction to be forgotten.

Saving Swainsthorpe Campaign


11th February 2019

P1P2

With 98% of the village in opposition to the Ben Burgess factory being built next to the village of Swainsthorpe the position of the residents is not in contention.
Despite this the planning statement put forward by Ben Burgess on the 28th January 2019 stated wrongly that the village is largely in support of the plan.

Ben Burgess seem to be determined to completely ignore the truth that 98% of the village is firmly against their destruction of this countryside.

Throughout the village signs and banners of opposition have been erected against the plan. A village meeting to oppose the project was strongly supported by more than 100 Swainsthorpe residents.

We have also learned that Ben Burgess directors have written to their employees asking them to write, along with their families and friends to South Norfolk Council in support of the Burgess plans for Swainsthorpe.

The objective of drowning out our village voice is dramatically seen in the attached diagrams showing clearly that supporting letters for Burgess come from a long way away from the land and village that they are intent on destroying. Simply put, these Burgess supporters have no idea of the life or the environment of Swainsthorpe that they are voting to destroy and have probably never ever been here.

It seems that someone is determined one way or another that the voice and views of this village must not be heard .
The business interests of six private shareholders it seems, are worth more than the homes and welfare of 170 homes and families in Swainsthorpe.

It is essential that we defend the democratic process, the thing that spooks politicians even more than the ‘party line’ is the ballot box. You might consider this when casting your voter at the May local government elections.


25th January 2019

A140

This would be a disaster on the A140.
Have your say – send your objections to South Norfolk Council now. Deadline is the 7th Feb.


30th January 2019

meet 1

More than 100 residents attended the latest meeting of the Saving Swainsthorpe campaign group which was held in partnership with the Swainsthorpe Parish council.

Mrs Glyn Frost, Chair of the Parish Council opened the meeting with a summary of the planning procedure and the vital part that the Parish Council would be playing in representing the democratic voice of Swainsthorpe in the next stage. At the invitation of Mrs Frost our district Councillor Phil Hardy spoke about the planning procedure and the steps that the application would go through.

The final presentation of the evening was given by Mr Rob Parkinson from the Saving Swainsthorpe Campaign. Rob gave a summary of the action taken by the campaign since July. First by attending to the GNLP proposals which threatened to allow the Swainsthorpe fields to be industrialised via the back door. The village and local area response was excellent with an overwhelming rejection of the Burgess proposals.

The GNLP will be considered at the end of this year by Norfolk County Council. Rob went on to explain that we needed to repeat the consultation process again with South Norfolk and the importance of full community involvement. Every body in the village has to make their voice heard.

It was very clear from the audience that people are worried and anxious by this assault on our homes and lives.
Directors of Ben Burgess refer to the objections as coming from a “few villagers” and that the feedback from Swainsthorpe “is broadly positive”.

Let us make it clear to the Board of Ben Burgess and South Norfolk Council that more than 98% are totally against this awful plan.

We live here, we breath this air, and we will hear the industry and loose our dark night sky. We are united in our efforts as we recognise that nothing less than the existence of this rural community is at stake.

The meeting was concluded with a rousing call for support for the campaign and a request for financial support to aid the professional services needed to oppose the Burgess consultants.

Finally Mr Turner the managing director of Ben Burgess attended our meeting he saw and heard our concerns. He was also treated with respect by the good people of Swainsthorpe.

Please act now and send your objections to South Norfolk Council. The planning application reference number is 2018/2631.

You can write to the case officer, Chris Watts via post: South Norfolk Council, South Norfolk House, Cygnet Court
Long Stratton, Norwich, NR15 2XE
or via email cwatts@s-norfolk.gov.uk

Alternatively, follow the link attached to this post, which should take you directly to the website.

Let’s get as many objections to this plan as we can!

https://info.south-norfolk.gov.uk/on…/applicationDetails.do…

https://www.gofundme.com/saving-swainsthorpe…

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