A Warwickshire-based poultry farm and abattoir has lost its appeal to extend its facilities and has warned it could now face closure with the loss of 96 jobs.
Summers Poultry Products, at Cank Farm in Tanworth-in-Arden, had sought to overturn a Stratford-upon-Avon District Council decision against the development.
However, an inspector for the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government has rejected the appeal – and agreed with the local authority that the slaughter house extension and other alterations in the Green Belt should not go ahead.
John Summers, the company’s managing director, said the chiller unit and holding pen area were built to meet strict Defra and Food Standards Agency regulations. And he had argued the buildings were essential otherwise the company would be forced to shut down the abattoir and 96 people would face losing their jobs.
Sarah Faulkner, NFU environmental adviser, who gave evidence at the planning inquiry last November, said there was deep disappointment following the inspector’s decision to dismiss the appeal.
She said: “Government makes supportive statements about the planning system supporting business, but unfortunately this does not always translate at a local level. We are frustrated and deeply disappointed by the outcome of this case.
“The NFU understands the importance of the Green Belt, but the business is established and sought to make minor changes to an existing building to meet regulatory requirements for animal welfare.
“Our thoughts are with Mr Summers and also with the people who face losing their jobs as a result of planning permission being refused.”
It is believed that Summer, which processes about 100,000 chickens a week, spends £6.5m in the rural economy, using contractors and suppliers. The family has been farming at Tanworth-in-Arden for generations and the abattoir has been operating since 1967.
However, in his report the inspector said he had considered the impact of the proposed extension upon the openness of the Green Belt and if it would have a “harmful visual impact”.
He said he accepted the proposed extensions would enable the slaughterhouse to meet current regulations for the foreseeable future, preserve jobs, maintain existing trade with local businesses and prevent disruption and expense to local and more distant poultry suppliers.
Despite Mr Summers saying the business employed 96 people, the inspector said that he had heard evidence that the existing slaughterhouse provided employment for some “20 village residents and 12 people from the surrounding area”. He said if the business closed “the impact upon local employment would therefore be relatively limited and might be offset by employment opportunities arising in any future business occupying the premises”.
The report said: “I therefore attach limited weight to any continued benefit to the local economy arising from the continuation of the business, were the proposed extension to take place.”