Case for move is finely balanced

WHETHER or not to allow Suffolk Wildlife Trust to move from cramped headquarters in a village and set up a new home in converted barns is a "finely balanced case".

WHETHER or not to allow Suffolk Wildlife Trust to move from cramped headquarters in a village and set up a new home in converted barns is a "finely balanced case".

The trust is considering relocating from Ashbocking and turning farm buildings at Foxburrow Farm, Melton, into its new base.

It had been looking at repairing the deteriorating buildings at Foxburrow, where it has an education centre, at a cost of £70,000.

But it would find it difficult to justify the expenditure on simply repairing the buildings and instead is looking at a wholesale move to the site.

Suffolk Coastal planning officers are recommending approval for the move – but concede that councillors do not have an easy decision to make.

In a report to the south development control sub committee, which will decide the issue on November 13, officers describe it as "a finely balanced case".

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"On the one hand there is merit in a consolidated venture for the Suffolk Wildlife Trust which enable the existing traditional buildings to be upgraded for employment purposes adding to the rural economy," said an officer.

"Set against this scale of the employment use could be said to be contrary to policy in that the business does not strictly constitute a 'small business'.

"On balance it is felt that the benefits to the rural economy outweigh the downside associated with what it is acknowledged is not a wholly sustainable location."

Residents in Foxburrow Farm Lane have objected to the proposals and say the use will generate more traffic and increase danger for people using the roads – also the view of the highway authority, which has recommend refusal.

Families say SWT's use of the farm is leading to urbanisation of a peaceful country area and traffic counts already show an average of 95 vehicles a day in the lane with up to 400 when events are held. They fear traffic will double if it becomes the trust's HQ.

Even one volunteer at the education centre has written to there will be increased traffic and more danger.

As well as the education centre, the trust has a small workshop with offices at the farm, which is also home to 350 breeding ewes used in the management of Suffolk's coastal heaths.

It wants to convert barns to provide a main office for SWT, including meeting rooms, reception area and toilets and offices.

At present four full-time and five part-time employees work on site. Following relocation of the main office, there would be an additional ten full-time and ten part-time employees.

Trust director Julian Roughton has said the plans are part of a feasibility study for the future of Foxburrow Farm and even if permission was granted the trust would not necessarily move.

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