A former cheese processing factory in Wrexham is to be converted into a poultry processing factory.
Councillors last night voted in favour of converting the former First Milk site in Marchwiel to a poultry processing factory which will create up to 150 jobs.
Last year Maelor Poultry announced plans to take over the former dairy and invest £10million into developing the site into a facility capable of processing 400,000 birds a week.
Members of the Planning Committee last night approved the proposals, with nine councillors voting in favour of the development and seven voting against.
Spokesperson for Maelor Poultry, Guy Evans told to committee that the applicant is a ‘well established farm business’ who purchased the property with a view to establish first class poultry site. Mr Evans added that the location had chosen with a view of ‘sustainability’.
Speaking about the change of use, Planning Officer David Williams said: “It is a major site and has been redundant for a number of years, this is a chance to use existing buildings for poultry plants. This is a £10million investment, we need to weigh this up against environmental impact.
“Clearly there is a concern on the local poultry, but it’s not planning’s role to regulate competition in in the area, we have to treat planning on its own merits and not how it impacts competition in the wider sense. In terms of noise this site does have an existing industrial use. This does offer the chance to impose conditions so we can regulate the the use to an extent that would not have an effect on residential amenity.”
Concerns about the issues the development were raised during the meeting with local member John Pritchard saying: “It was a dairy plant for over 60 years. I have concerns that we have application for a slaughterhouse. Noise, vermin and smell, residents would have to endure this living near the plant.
“I do feel a similar plant regarding dairy production would be acceptable. I feel concerns from local community overcome the importance of the type of employment opportunities that come up and should not be detrimental to the people of the area.”
Issues surrounding the odour from the factory were reiterated by several members of the committee, with concerns surrounding traffic generation, noise disruption and access also raised.
The committee was told by Mr Williams that the level of poultry processed would be controlled via the imposition of the level of traffic – and that a ‘Odour Risk Assessment & Proposed Control Measures’ had been carried out and that controls would be put in place.
However the application received strong praise from many councillors, who commended the application for the number of jobs that the development would create.
Councillor Graham Rogers said: “The plant has been stagnant for the last 12 months and I don’t believe it will produce a dairy plant again. The proposed plant will fetch additional jobs in Wrexham, help the unemployed in Wrexham and help the economy.”
Councillor Paul Pemberton added: “In my eyes it is 150 jobs and that’s not to be sniffed at. I think that 150 job mark, we would be foolish as councillors representing people of Wrexham to ignore that.”
Maelor Poultry will occupy the former First Milk Dairy site, which saw 230 people lose their jobs last year as a result of the company losing a major contract with Asda.
Speaking about the planning approval, Commercial Director of Salisbury Poultry, Stephen Hammond, said: “We are delighted to have the support and approval of the council to go ahead with this major project that will bring a £10m investment and 150-plus jobs to Wrexham and the surrounding area, as well as more jobs in the supply chain that will be needed to support our venture.
“A lot of hard work and commitment has gone into reaching this point and we very much appreciate receiving the backing of the Welsh Assembly Government, including from its Head of Business Development, Andrew Martin, from Clwyd South MP, Susan Elan Jones, Clwyd South AM, Ken Skates, and many other individuals, organisations and companies who have appreciated what we want to do and were willing to say so publicly. We’re also grateful to the planning officers at Wrexham County Borough Council and the authority’s Assets and Business Development Manager, Peter Scott, who have worked with us to make this possible.
“We are very much looking forward to becoming part of the business community of North Wales.”