Entrepreneur Jack van Praag has secured planning consent to manufacture his artisan ice cream at Manor Farm, Girton.
The Cambridgeshire County Council owned small holding was of course once the home of the former deputy leader of the council Roger Hickford.
Cllr Hickford wanted to use outbuildings for a doggy day care centre and the accompanying fields for exercising them.
He left- suddenly – in February 2021 – ahead of a damning report into how he had acquired the tenancy and following both his departure from the council and from Manor Farm, a fresh tenancy was offered on the open market.
Mr van Pragg’s company – Jack’s Gelato – has now won planning permission from South Cambridgeshire District Council to move there.
Not all neighbours agreed with the council’s decision, and a report prepared by planning officers notes one complaint was that the building was not being put back into agricultural use.
Other issues included the fact that the use of the dog training centre was never commenced and there were fears of “industrial production in the Green Belt” and concerns over 7 days a week working.
However, one concern over the impact of proposed solar panels was removed after the company pulled that idea from its plans.
“Officers suggest that given the proposal would re-use an existing building, it would not conflict with the purposes of the Green Belt,” says the officers’ summary.
“The proposal is considered to be reasonably low key in terms of operation and employee movements, and as such is not likely to result in adverse impacts to residential occupiers in terms of noise and disturbance.
“The applicant has suggested that the proposed operated hours would be 08:00 – 18:00 Monday – Friday, and 10:00 to 18:00 on weekends.
“Whilst, concerns have been raised about week round operation, these are considered reasonable and will be conditioned to ensure this is controlled and would disturb residential occupiers.”
Jack’s Gelato agent told South Cambridgeshire Council that the company has a strong environmental focus and will be net zero no later than 2030.
“It uses electric vehicles and has minimised use of the single fossil fuel vehicle in its fleet to less than 1000 miles a year, which will be replaced with an electric version when the opportunity arises,” say the agents.
“It uses no other fossil fuels in its operations. Every employee travels to work by foot, cycle, or train.
“The company produces less landfill waste than the average household, and far less than the average food business. It is in the process of in investing in equipment that will reduce water consumption by over 96%.
“The company has invested huge resources, both in time and money in sourcing sustainable packaging. This is truly sustainable, which reaches beyond plant-based plastics that many businesses have accepted as a solution.
“Single use plastic and bioplastic has been completely removed. Jack’s Gelato leads by example and encourages the wider industry to adopt the same practices.
“The business provides high quality jobs in a sector that is not known for this.
“Salaries are upwards of 20% higher than industry averages, along with a host of other benefits not seen in this sector.
“The business provides high quality jobs in a sector that is not known for this. Salaries are upwards of 20% higher than industry averages, along with a host of other benefits not seen in this sector. “
Agents add that Jack’s Gelato is an inclusive employer which promotes and improves diversity and inclusion in the workplace.
The county council had advertised Manor Farm, Girton, to let and said it “comprises about 9 acres of pastureland, a three-bedroom house and a multi-purpose building, both recently refurbished”.
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