Hotel Chocolat gets go-ahead to expand working hours

Hotel Chocolat in Huntingdon will be expanding its working hours.

Hotel Chocolat in Huntingdon will be expanding its working hours. - Credit: Hotel Chocolat

Luxury chocolate firm Hotel Chocolat has been given the go-ahead to operate its Huntingdon factory around the clock because its work has been affected by the coronavirus crisis - and because of increasing demand for its products.

The firm's bid for unrestricted hours of operation at the factory in Redwongs Way has been approved by Huntingdonshire District Council.

Hotel Chocolat had a condition restricting operations at the factory to 6am till 10pm from Monday to Sunday, imposed to protect people living in the area from disturbance.

But the council agreed unrestricted operations, following the firm's application to have conditions changed, after concluding that the nearest people lived 130m away and would not be disturbed by the factory. 

A letter submitted as part of Hotel Chocolat's application said: "There is an immediate need for extended hours of operations due to limitations to working arrangements and number of workers on shift due to COVID-19 regulations.

"This has put a strain on existing operational arrangements and more flexible working practices are necessary."

It said: " Additionally, Hotel Chocolat has also seen a notable increase in business demand and as such the site requires longer hours of operations to ensure it can continue to meet production demand and business functionality moving forward.

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"The site is located within a large industrial area where there are no close residential neighbours which could be impacted by increased hours of operations."

It added: "At present, the factory is able to operate between 6am and 10pm with no impact on amenity to any surrounding development in terms of noise, traffic, odour etc." 

A report by a council planner said the firm had explained that there was an immediate need for extended hours of operations because of Covid-19 regulation and an increase in demand which required an extension to the previously agreed hours of operations. 

It said the change was "relatively minor" and would not have an adverse effect on people or businesses in the area.

But two other conditions, restricting deliveries to 06.00-22.000 and Hotel Chocolat being required to inform the council about any proposed installation of extra external plant equipment, were put in place to protect the area around the factory.