Furious villagers have hit out at a local authority, claiming an application to build a chicken farm housing 20,000 birds was "rushed through under the radar".

Plans were submitted to Broadland Council on July 20 for a free-range chicken unit at Manor Farm in Beighton, near Acle - set with access track, feed bins and a "fox proof" fence.

As a delegated matter, it was approved by borough council officers on November 25, rather than at a public meeting.

The delegated decision was of much frustration among villagers who say the chicken farm will give off a "foul odour", spoil views and cause rat-run traffic on the B1140.

The plans, submitted by Jamie Mack, son of Beighton parish councillor Valerie Mack, received 11 objections.

%image(14533444, type="article-full", alt="Emma Taylor of Alpacas of East Anglia, with some of her alpacas, angry that a chicken farm has been approved on the hill behind her")

Speaking on behalf of Mr Mack, a Savills spokesperson said: "This farm has been in the same family's ownership for over 100 years, and would support the future of the business, producing high welfare chickens that will roam freely across five acres.

The proposal would not cause issues for highways, residential amenity and human health, the landscape or the natural environment.”

The spokesman added that no objections to the scheme had been made by other statutory bodies, including the Highways Agency and an environmental health officer.

A Broadland Council spokesperson said it placed flyers through 38 doors informing residents of the application, as well as site notices in the village hall and on two nearby posts. It ran an EDP public notice on September 1.

But Emma Taylor, who owns the nearby East Anglia Alpaca Mill, said few people knew about it - a view backed up by several letters to Broadland Council from objectors.

%image(14533445, type="article-full", alt="Emma Taylor of Alpacas of East Anglia, with some of her alpacas, angry that a chicken farm has been approved opposite her farm")

Ms Taylor said: “The whole thing stinks. It was rushed through under the radar. I live opposite and received no letter.

"I was planning on turning part of my alpaca mill into a craft workshop. Who's going to want to come with the stench of chickens in the background?

%image(14533446, type="article-full", alt="Residents say there is already a lot of heavy duty traffic in Beighton from nearby Cantley Sugar Factory, and that the new chicken farm will bring even more into the village")"I'm not against people expanding their businesses, but the way they've gone about this is so un-neighbourly."

Objector Dawn Borrett, who lives in the village, said she only heard of the application a few weeks ago.

"My husband found out about it by chance from a neighbour, which isn’t right given that this is a big deal for Beighton", she said.

But the parish council said it had dealt with the application appropriately and that it had received no objections, despite those sent to the district authority.

%image(14533447, type="article-full", alt="Emma Taylor says she "paid and invested in this view" and does not want it spoiled")A spokesman said: "The supporting documents did not throw up any concerns, and as there were no objections the parish council responded to Broadland District Council accordingly.

“Mrs Valerie Mack took no part and had no input into the process whatsoever."