Preston City Council decides on Preston meat firm’s plans to expand its factory

A booming meat processing company looks set to expand its factory on the outskirts of Preston despite objections from people living nearby.

By Brian Ellis
Monday, 4th July 2022, 3:45 pm

Planning officers have recommended Bowland Foods should be allowed to add a sizeable extension to its plant on the Roman Way Industrial Estate in Ribbleton to take advantage of soaring demand for pork.

Bowland says it is operating at capacity in its 2,100 square metre factory and wants to add another 890 square metres of space to more than double the amount of pig carcasses it already cuts up.

The expansion would increase the workforce by 20 per cent. Yet locals have written 11 letters to Preston Council opposing the plans and claiming a bigger building could mean an increase in traffic and smells in the area.

Bowland Foods say they have reached capacity at their factory in Ribbleton.

Council officers have reassured the residents - who live at least 177-metres away from the plant - that their fears are unjustified. And they have given the scheme their backing, subject to a number of conditions.

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At full capacity Bowland Foods can already handle up to 450 pork carcasses as well as 400 lamb and 300 beef.

The family-run wholesale firm wants to increase its site to take up to 1,000 pork, 340 beef and 400 lamb at peak times.

Demand for pork products is soaring, say meat producers.

They point out the alternative would be to open a satellite plant some distance away, meaning more wagon movements and an increase in food miles.

"The business has focussed on the growth in demand from customers over the last three to five years for its pork products," says a report to the council.

"Demand is now such that the company needs to extend the existing factory rather than being forced to relocate to alternative premises or fragment the business through operating in other premises in a satellite location."

It says there is "an underlying pressure upon the meat processing industry due to worker and facility shortages across the country, with meat being exported for processing to serve the UK market.

Bowland Foods want to add a large extension to help them meet demand for pork meat.

"The proposals seek to address this issue with enhanced facilities at the site benefitting the sector economically and in terms of reducing food miles."

Highways officers have raised no objections despite the residents' fears over traffic.

And the city council's environmental health officers say worries over smells are also unfounded as the business handles frozen animal carcasses rather than live animals "and as such the odours associated with such a practice are far less severe and intrusive as those of an active slaughterhouse."

The current factory was opened in 2004 and the company says it has seen rapid growth since then.

But pressure on the meat industry now means some animal carcasses are being sent abroad to be processed before being returned for sale on the UK food market.

The report adds: "The size of the extension is justified by a clear need for growth as a result of the success of the business."

In recommending approval officers concluded: “he proposal is considered to be acceptable and would not result in any adverse impact upon residential amenity, visual amenity, drainage or highway safety