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Ruling leaves bitter taste for winemaker

PUBLISHED: 06:53 24 February 2002 | UPDATED: 11:24 03 March 2010

THE owner of a vineyard has criticised councillors for "extinguishing a glimmer of hope" for the rural community after they rejected his plans for a new winery.

THE owner of a vineyard has criticised councillors for "extinguishing a glimmer of hope" for the rural community after they rejected his plans for a new winery.

Stephen Williams' bid to extend his Shotley-based business, Witenagemot Wine, was delivered a blow when members of Babergh District Council's development committee disapproved of the "visual impact" it would have on the banks of the River Orwell.

Planning officers have invited Mr Williams, who has outline planning permission to build a new barn at the site, to resubmit his plans.

But he insisted there was no other suitable location for the premises and has vowed to fight the ruling, which he dismissed as "barmy".

"This is a bitter disappointment for us," said Mr Williams.

"We can still produce wine but it will now mean in less quantities. It also means that tourists will not be able to come to Suffolk and experience our new wine at first hand."

The only vineyard in the Ipswich and south Suffolk region, Mr Williams hoped his improved business would be a "tremendous boost" to tourism and the English wine industry, and create 10 to 15 jobs for local people.

He currently produces two red and two white wines, in a small barn on the 24-acre site.

But councillors said the new winery would not be suitable in an Area of Outstanding Beauty (AONB), close to Shotley Church, or where it would have an impact on views across the Orwell.

Mr Williams said: "This is a temporary setback. We will appeal."

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