A TOCKINGTON business is ‘frantically’ looking for new premises as the building it currently occupies looks set to be demolished.

Victoria Foods, a family-run food supply business, has operated from Elms Farm for 20 years, but moved to its current location in 2017.

Since then, landowner Bruce Farr has been involved in a planning dispute with South Gloucestershire Council.

The barn currently occupied by Victoria Foods was originally designed for another of Mr Farr’s tenants, a dairy farmer.

The tenant later changed their mind, by which point Mr Farr claims it was too late to stop construction of the building.

Victoria Foods later relocated to the empty barn.

According to Mr Farr’s planning agent Nigel Cant: “The prior notification approval for the building was on the basis that it would be used for the storage of fodder and feed.

“Mr Farr mistakenly believed that this could reasonably include food for human consumption.”

In 2018, South Gloucestershire Council issued an enforcement notice requiring the building to be demolished as it was not being used for agricultural purposes.

A number of residents also complained that early morning deliveries to Victoria Foods were causing noise disturbance.

A public inquiry was held last December following an appeal by Mr Farr, but the enforcement notice was upheld.

Making his decision at the beginning of January, planning inspectorate Simon Hand gave six months for the building to be demolished.

The deadline for this passed last week.

Mr Cant said: “There are ongoing attempts now to try to persuade South Gloucestershire Council that the building, subject to a number of changes in external appearance, should be allowed to remain on the site to service the adjoining agricultural land.

“A formal full agricultural tenancy agreement has now been signed and the tenant (the dairy farmer), having resolved his previous difficulties, now requires the building for agricultural purposes on the land that Mr Farr owns. This matter is ongoing.”

James Farr, who manages the site on behalf of his father, added: “We are aware of the concerns of local residents, the legal position regarding the barn and the issues surrounding its use.

“We are working closely with our team and the local authority to resolve this to the satisfaction of all parties whilst taking into consideration the delays and difficulties Covid 19 has caused for everyone.”

Mark Anderson, who helps run Victoria Foods, said: “Victoria Foods have been a tenant on Elms Farm for over 20 years and have had the same suppliers this whole time. The complaints about our deliveries did not start until late 2017.

“We have taken these very seriously and have completely changed our working practices over the last year or so. We have cut the number of deliveries by consolidating our suppliers so we now have two/three main deliveries per day - it used to be five/six.

“We have requested our suppliers do not arrive on site before 7am but do concede this has not always been the case. We have recently stopped opening the gate to the site until 7am in a bid to stop deliveries arriving on site.

“I have offered to meet with residents on occasions to discuss their complaints and try to work out a solution together but am still waiting for any direct contact.

“Victoria Foods are now frantically looking for new premises, but this has proved difficult with recent Covid 19 restrictions. We now have a few irons in the fire and hopefully should have some news soon.”

A spokesperson for South Gloucestershire Council said: “We have been in discussions with the tenant company and in January we advised a short extension might be possible if they were able to re-arrange early morning deliveries.

“Unfortunately the company was not able to do this and complaints from residents have continued.

“As a result we will not be granting any extension and enforcement proceedings are likely to be initiated in the near future. These proceedings will be against the landowner rather than the tenant company.”