Agenda item

Planning Application DC/22/1294/FUL - Land off Compiegne Way, Bury St Edmunds (Report No: DEV/WS/23/017)

Report No: DEV/WS/23/017


Planning application - animal feed mill and associated development including ancillary offices, silos, warehouse, improved access route and parking


(Councillor Diane Hind declared, in the interests of openness and transparency, that she had attended Bury St Edmunds Town Council’s meeting when the Town Council considered the application. However, she stressed that she would keep an open mind and listen to the debate prior to voting on the item. Councillor Hind also advised, for clarity, that whilst Councillors Peter Armitage and Donna Higgins were also on the Town Council they had not been present when this application was discussed.)


Planning application - animal feed mill and associated development including ancillary offices, silos, warehouse, improved access route and parking


The application was referred to the Development Control Committee as the proposed development was of a substantial scale and on an edge of town location, where it was likely to have significant impact on the landscape and character of the area. 


Bury St Edmunds Town Council objected to the application.


A Member site visit was held prior to the meeting and as part of his presentation to the meeting the Principal Planning Officer also showed videos of the site.


The Committee was also displayed visual mock-ups of the site demonstrating various viewpoints inclusive of 15 years-worth of growth from the landscaping which was proposed as mitigation.


Reference was made to the letter sent by the applicants to all Members of the Development Control Committee on 28 July 2023. The Principal Planning Officer responded in detail to some of the points raised in the letter within his presentation.


Officers were recommending that the application be refused for the reason set out in Paragraph 177 of Report No DEV/WS/23/017.


Speakers:    Sarah Broughton (objector) spoke against the application

(The Chair explained that whilst Councillor Broughton was a West Suffolk District Councillor she was speaking on the application in a personal capacity.)

Dino Kiriakopoulos (applicant) spoke in support of the application


Considerable debate and discussion was undertaken by the Committee. A number of whom remarked on the historic and economic importance of British Sugar to the local area.


The need for animal feed mills on this scale, to support the country’s agricultural industry, was also highlighted by some Members.


The Principal Planning Officer responded to specific questions/comments in connection with the following topics:

Existing mill site – the Committee was advised that the existing feed mill site was coming to the end of its useful life, however, any future alternative use/development of the site would be subject to a separate planning application and did not form part of the current considerations;

Alternative locations – the applicants had undertaken a considerable scoping exercise in which they explored alternative locations for the scheme and set out the rationale behind opting for the application site within the submission documents for the application;

Working hours – these would be 24/7 shift working, as per the existing mill site; and

Highways – Members were assured that Suffolk County Council Highways and National Highways had looked at the cumulative impact of the vehicle movements associated with the scheme and these had been considered acceptable.


Some of the Committee commented upon their perception that the flooding which was regularly experienced at Compiegne Way had significantly improved in recent months and Officers were asked to establish if works had been undertaken which had led to this improvement.


Remarks were also made on the visual impact the sugar beet factory already had on the surrounding area and questions were raised as to whether this could also be mitigated in some way via the scheme seeking approval.


The Service Manager (Planning – Development) explained that the landscaping scheme proposed by the applicant did include some offsite mitigation on land owned by them. However, the proposals did not include any mitigation measures across the wider British Sugar site and whilst this couldn’t be specifically sought for the sugar beet factory via this planning application, the applicant was present and would have heard the comments made by the Committee in this respect.


Councillor Andy Neal proposed that the application be approved, contrary to the Officer recommendation, as he considered that the local and regional economic benefits that would be brought about by the scheme outweighed the harm to the countryside landscape. This was duly seconded by Councillor Carol Bull.


The Service Manager (Planning – Development) confirmed that the Decision Making Protocol would be invoked and the motion would be ‘minded to’ and subject to the production of a Risk Assessment for future consideration by the Committee.


This would also enable Officers to seek further amendments and information in relation to the response from the Council’s Landscape Consultant in respect of mitigation, planting and landscaping; to produce a list of proposed conditions; to ascertain whether any work had already been undertaken in relation to flooding on Compiegne Way; and to confirm the views of the application site from the Abbey Gardens (as raised by Councillor Jon London during the debate).


Upon being put to the vote and with 15 voting for the motion and with 1 abstention, it was resolved that




Members be MINDED TO GRANT THE APPLICATION, CONTRARY TO THE OFFICER RECOMMENDATION, due to the local and regional economic benefits that would be brought about by the scheme which outweighed the harm to the countryside landscape. A Risk Assessment would therefore be produced for consideration by the Committee at a future meeting.


(During the Committee’s debate Councillor Phil Wittam briefly left the meeting, on his return the Lawyer advised that Councillor Wittam would be unable to take part in the voting on the item as he had not been privy to all discussion.)


(On conclusion of this agenda item the Chair permitted a short comfort break.)


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