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Council set to decide on drinks giant’s £10m upgrade plans for Suffolk cider plant

PUBLISHED: 09:22 11 January 2019 | UPDATED: 08:52 14 January 2019

Henry Chevallier Guild, Aspall general manager Dale Scott, Molson Coors managing director Philip Whitehead and Barry Chevallier Guild at Debenham in 2018 when they unveiled their multimillion pound plans for the site  Picture: SARAH CHAMBERS

Henry Chevallier Guild, Aspall general manager Dale Scott, Molson Coors managing director Philip Whitehead and Barry Chevallier Guild at Debenham in 2018 when they unveiled their multimillion pound plans for the site Picture: SARAH CHAMBERS

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Planners are recommending giving the green light to a £10m upgrade scheme proposed by the new owners of a celebrated Suffolk cider brand

Molson Coors acquired the iconic family-run business, based near Debenham, in January last year, keeping on eighth generation brothers Barry and Henry Chevallier Guild as brand ambassadors.

A few months later, the American drinks giant unveiled its multi-million pound plans to improve efficiencies at the plant to villagers at a meeting held in Debenham.

MORE - New Aspall cider owner underlines commitment to Suffolk with multi-million pound upgrade plans

Its proposals for a process building, loading bay canopy and sub-station, relocation of storage tanks and new concrete pads for the site are set to be considered by Mid Suffolk Council’s development control committee on Wednesday, January 16. The plans have attracted 13 letters of objection, mainly centred around potential pollution concerns, traffic and visual amenity.

Suffolk cider and vinegar maker Aspall was acquired in January 2018 by US-based  brewing multi-national Molson Coors  Picture: ASPALLSuffolk cider and vinegar maker Aspall was acquired in January 2018 by US-based brewing multi-national Molson Coors Picture: ASPALL

Planners are recommending approval - subject to various conditions, including on construction works hours and a landscaping scheme.

The factory lies next to grade II* Listed Aspall Hall, which is still occupied by the family. The council’s heritage team said the proposed expansion of industrial structures on site “would further erode the setting of the grade II* listed hall, diminishing the contribution it makes to its significance”.

It considered the hall would cause “a moderate level” of less than substantial harm to the significance of the hall and recommended further mitigation efforts to reduce the impact of the development.

Historic England suggested it would result in harm to the setting of the hall. “We remain of the position that building in this locaiton would further erode the significance of the Aspall hall through development within its setting. We have concerns regarding application and suggest that an alternative location is sought.”

Inside the production facility at Aspall  Picture: ASPALLInside the production facility at Aspall Picture: ASPALL

The hall sits within the top 5.8% of listed buildings nationally, it said. “The proposed scheme would bring large scale, industrial development close to the Grade II* listed building and would also result in previously open land being developed.

“In addition to the new process building this application also includes 33 new storage tanks and the relocation of 25 storage tanks from elsewhere on site which would result in an intensification of industrial buildings on previously undeveloped land.”

Molson Coors said new jobs would be created as a result of the plan, while reducing traffic and disruption.

Aspall general manager Dale Scott said the company would be investing up to £10m over the next three year in modernising facilities within the existing footprint of the site to create a sustainable future for the business.

Apples heading into Aspall's new apple press plant  Picture: MARTIN CHAMBERSApples heading into Aspall's new apple press plant Picture: MARTIN CHAMBERS

“We have been sharing our plans with the local community and listening to concerns. We know it’s important to reduce the number of vehicle movements to and from Aspall,” he said.

“Although we are planning to produce more cider by 2020, our plans to improve site efficiency, coupled with our logistics expertise, means that the number of vehicles that enter and leave the Aspall site will be reduced significantly. In fact we estimate that we will reduce vehicle movements into site by more than 20% by 2020 and we’ve already taken a significant number of steps to act on this.

“We’ve completed the build of a new weighbridge and this is now in use. The weighbridge will reduce traffic in the parish of Aspall as well as Bedingfield itself, halving the number of local journeys required for most of our weighed deliveries. We are also investing in our effluent area to enable us to deal with waste in a more sustainable manner and reduce the volume of waste water we need to remove from site each year.

“As proud owners of Aspall, it is very important to us to work alongside the local community as we seek to operate and develop the site in the coming months, ahead of what we anticipate will be a long residency in Suffolk.”

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