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Waverley Borough Council Committee System - Committee Document

Meeting of the Council held on 11/12/2007
Technical Briefing on Land at Tuesley Farm

Joint Planning Management Committee 21

Joint Planning Management Committee
14th November 2007

Technical Briefing on Application WA/2007/1962
Land at Tuesley Farm, Tuesley Lane, Godalming GU7 7UG
Members’ Questions and Answers

1. Would the applicants be willing to support, via the S.106 agreement, a reduction in the speed limit to 30mph along Station Lane, Milford?
2. What are the applicant’s intentions with regard to the caravans, which are not part of the current planning application?
The intention was to convert the un-used buildings on the farm into high quality, sustainable accommodation units for employees. The outcome of the planning application would impact on the mix of crops grown, which would impact on the numbers of employees needed, and the pattern of employment over of the year, and thus on the amount of accommodation required and building plans. In the interim, a 12 month temporary extension of existing facilities would be sought.

3. How many were employed on the farm, dependent on the polytunnels? Could they all be accommodated in converted farm buildings?
At the peak of the season, up to 250 people had been employed at one time. The number of pickers required at any time was largely a function of the weather conditions and how they affected the harvest. With the proposed mix of 6 crops, the seasonal demand for pickers would be more even, making it more likely that most could be accommodated in permanent accommodation. There might be occasional need for additional temporary accommodation, however.

4. What area of the farm was currently covered by polytunnels?
5. Are Waverley using the same Landscape Consultant as they did at the 2005 Inquiry?
Confirmed. David Withycombe of Land Management Services Ltd had been appointed to assist the Council in its assessment of the current application. Mr Withycombe had presented evidence on landscape and visual impact issues on behalf of the Council at the public inquiry in 2005 relating to the enforcement action taken against the applicants regarding the erection of polytunnels and other issues at Tuesley Farm.

6. Was is correct that Waverley Borough Local Policy RD10 was being cited as support for both Recommendation 1, to grant planning approval, and Recommendation 2, to refuse planning approval?
WBLP RD10 Agricultural Development applied to both recommendations. It supported the recommendation to grant the use of polytunnels in certain areas of Tuesley Farm, as this would allow a viable agricultural holding to remain in operation. It also supported the recommendation to refuse the use of polytunnels in sensitive areas of Tuesley Farm, as being inappropriate agricultural development.

7. Was it correct that Recommendation 2, to refuse approval for use of polytunnels on certain areas of the farm, related to areas where the applicant was not proposing to employ polytunnels?
8. Was the proposed reduction in the area of polytunnels a compromise to obtain planning permission? If approved, would the Council be receiving in the future requests to increase the area under cover to ensure the viability of the business?
The proposals for peak coverage of 20ha of polytunnels had been developed following an agronomic analysis of crop mixes, different configurations of covered areas, etc and represented the basis for a viable business case.

9. As a comparison, what are the planning restrictions relating to commercial glasshouse operations?
These could be covered by the Town & Country Planning (General Permitted Development) Order 1995 under which a holding of more than 5ha could be permitted to erect up to 465m2 of agricultural buildings as permitted development.

10. If permission is granted for this proposal, how can the Council prevent ‘creep’?
The applicants are totally committed to the proposals before the Council, and there is no intention to seek to increase the area under polytunnels.

11. How dependent are the applicants on Eastern European labourers?
12. The FoE presenter had referred to concerns regarding the status of Field 17, and requested that it be included in the area of high visual sensitivity. Might this be possible?
13. If the proposals are approved, how might the Council monitor observance of the conditions by the applicants? How might the Council ensure that the proposed environmental benefits accrue?
The proposed S.106 agreement will secure a 10-year landscape management plan, which will include the intended landscape and environmental benefits. It was not envisaged that the Council would micro-manage the arrangements. Having established the general principles, the Council would investigate if complaints were received. The applicants were proposing a Community Farm Management Team and this would be a valuable means of monitoring activity.

The applicants offered to submit annual schemes showing the proposed coverage of polytunnels, or regular photographic portfolios of fields to show their status.

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