South Holland District Council offices.

Hi-tech agri-futures

A high-tech agricultural machinery company is planning to build a new research and development facility in Holbeach Drove.

The plans also include a solar array and infrastructure for applicant G Sly Holdings Ltd.
The application for an assembly building along with research and training facilities will be discussed by South Holland District Council’s planning committee on Wednesday.
“Currently the company turnover is £13m a year, with anticipated growth to £25m by 2025,” says a design and access statement with the application.
“Brexit has been a major issue for the company and although they have worked through it, it is difficult to justify the presence of a manufacturing site in the UK when the company expects 75-80 per cent of production volume will be for the EU mainland by 2026. However, the company is proud to be a British producer and is a member of the ‘Made in Britain’ campaign,” the document adds.
The company’s main competitors are based in Germany and Sweden.
The ‘essential’ need for constant testing and research means the new facility would need to be in the countryside.
The company will maintain its Sutton St James site for cutting, fabrication and painting of metal components, the document adds.
“The company installed £650,000 of painting equipment in 2020 which would be incredibly expensive to move. The company would, therefore, plan to use Sutton St James for five to seven years,” members of the committee will be told.
The Holbeach Drove site will give the company room to grow operations in the long term. It currently employs 52 people.
Access to the crop trial areas is integral to the business and an array of ground-mounted photovoltaic panels will be behind existing roadside hedging.
The report to members says the development will ‘benefit the future of agricultural practice,’ and recommends the plan is approved.
The main building is 8m high and the research and development centre would have a display area similar to a car showroom. There will also be welfare facilities and offices.

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