Plans put forward to rebuild and modernise fire-hit Heckington factory

The owners of a nut and snack factory which suffered a major fire in March this year are looking to rebuild and modernise the facilities which sufered extensive damage in the blaze.

The factory building was extensively damaged and has since been demolished. EMN-210911-170449001

The Roasting Company, based on Heckington Business Park off Station Road in the village, saw 50 firefighters needed on site on March 4 to put out the flames which shot through the roof of the steel framed building.

The cause of the fire was ruled as accidental by the investigation which looked into its source.

The Roasting Company is a sub-division of applicants, Melbourne Holdings Limited, and has operated from the site since its incorporation in 2005. The Roasting Company processes around 27,000 metric tonnes of peanuts and tree nuts every year, making it the UK’s largest family owned processor of such produce and an important contributor to the local economy and employment for residents.

A new office block is to be built on another part of the site as part of the plans to modernise the factory operations at Heckington. EMN-210911-170459001

They are seeking to replace the wrecked factory unit, which had to be demolished, and erect new offices and two new factory buildings.

In documents submitted to North Kesteven District Council, the applicants say: “This proposal simply seeks to rebuild, rationalise and modernise the existing premises utilised by The Roasting Company (with no significant alteration to the external appearance of those units).”

The application documents state: “The proposed works consist of rebuilding works to the damaged factory which sits within the centre of the site (to the north of the access road which runs through Heckington Business Village), a new replacement office block (to sit to the south of the access road) and two new factory units to be located within the north-eastern corner of the site.

“None of the proposed units would exceed the scale of the tallest existing building located within Heckington Business Village and, as such, it is considered that the siting and appearance of each of the elements presented by this application is consistent with the existing character and appearance of Heckington Business Village.

Up to 50 firefighters were needed to bring the blaze at The Roasting Company under control in Heckington back in March. EMN-210911-170438001

“Crucially, the works relating to the ‘new’ and rebuilt units will enable this existing, successful business, to maximise their productivity following a difficult period in The Roasting Company’s history.”

The replacement office block will benefit from 35 off-street vehicle parking bays - an increase of 10 - and they claim the application would not have any significant or negative impact upon nearby listed buildings, The Pearoom - an old warehouse converted to flats, and the Heckington Windmill.

The application is not seeking to ‘expand’ the operational capacity of the existing business and would not lead to any increase in highways movements from deliveries and staff, according to the report.

The company has not been able to operate at full capacity since the fire. As an existing employer within the village, the plans are said to provide the best conditions for The Roasting Company to recover from the challenges of the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic and recent fire damage. This would also result in reducing the amount of waste produced from the site.

The firm is keen to move on quickly. It is anticipated that the works relating to the ‘new’ factories will be the first to commence, prior to then commencing with the lengthy rebuild of the damaged unit and replacement office block, .

NKDC’s Economic Development team says it supports the application: “It will allow an established and successful business to resume and continue trading from its current site following a serious fire.

“The site in question is part of the Heckington employment area, an important area identified in the local plan. No expansion of operations is planned but the opportunity to renew, rationalise and modernise the design of the site is noted.”