So that’s OK then? Waverley Planners are satisfied that the benefits of Harry Hall’s application to cover 90 acres in big white plastic polytunnels outweigh the detrimental impact on residents, heritage buildings, and the road network near Milford. So up goes the green light for an industrial-size fruit factory.
Fruit farming has been going on here for the past 20 years!
WA/2020/2055: Retention of 20 hectares of polytunnels throughout the year (5.6 hectares heated by heat pumps drawing heat from the on-site reservoir, 14.4 hectares without heating), (located in particular fields identified as acceptable) on Tuesley Farm, Tuesley Lane, Godalming. 40 further hectares of polytunnels to be on-site (in fields identified as acceptable for polytunnels) from 1st April until 31st October; with the retention of hoops on the further 40 hectares of polytunnels (removing the plastic covers only between 1st November and 1st April).
Owner Harry Hall gave an upbeat take on his fruit farming operations which provided 2% and 3 million tonnes of the country’s blueberries, raspberries and strawberries. Employing 130 Full Time staff and 500 seasonal workers. Consent would increase the growing season and boost production by 15%. Local fruit would reduce the carbon footprint of fruit from overseas.
Councillor Richard Seaborne, whose history reveals loves to build on the Green Belt (unless it is to change the use of a hotel garden and tennis court, into a residential garden tennis court) asked for the application to be considered by the Eastern Area Planning Committee. The application was deferred in April which resulted in Natural England changing its original objection to support!
It also allowed the Secretary of State to give his seal of approval to the massive proliferation of polytunnels across the Green Belt. Saying the scheme didn’t need an Environmental Impact Assessment.
Does Robert”Bob The Builder’ Jenrick really want The Tories kicked out at the next general election?
Though we have to mention that Cranleigh’s Lib Dem councillor Ruth Reed waxed lyrical about the benefits of…
Blueberries on my breakfast cereal and strawberries at Wimbledon!
Looking anything but merry, Mr Merriweather painted a gloomy picture on behalf of local residents adamantly opposed to living in a world of 90 acres of ugly white plastic and HGV’s from 5 am in the morning until 11 pm thundering through country roads like Station Lane Milford! But his appeals to stop the expansion from a large to an industrial-sized fruit farming operation fell on some very deaf ears. Councillors listened – but they either didn’t hear or ignored his pleas.
Because the application was approved by 11 votes to two with one abstention.
However, the lone voice of a brave Waverley Tree officer had described the proposed operation to supply 2% of the country’s fruit from an ocean of polytunnels as…
A blot on Waverley’s landscape.”
But everyone was assured that Surrey County Council Highways was happy there would be no increase in HGV traffic due to the expansion. So everyone slumped back in their seats in the certain knowledge that everyone can always rely on SCC highways to get it right?
However, that didn’t satisfy Alfold’s former Bobby Cllr Kevin Deanus. A man who knows a thing or two about traffic.
He said the report before them stated…
“HGV’s are delivering to the site – carefully,” to a background of laughter -he said – if I ever see one that is careful – I will let everyone know.”
He didn’t believe enough weight had been given to the impact on the heritage properties around the site. It would spoil the setting of the Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty and he didn’t have confidence in experts who always contradicted each other. He believed lorry movements should be restricted, and should not move during school arrival and leaving times. Such restrictions were made at Dunsfold Park on lorry movements, so should be imposed here.
Like Cllr Deanus, the WW has often wondered what this well-rehearsed officers’ statement means:
“The development will cause less than substantial harm!”
Statements made in the officers report that Station Lane would be improved with wider pavements as a result of the Milford Golf Course development visibly upset Cllr Maxine Gail.
“There may be an economic benefit for Waverley, but none for the local residents!”
She reminded officers that the golf course development may not go ahead – and was covered by a restrictive covenant.
The application proposes to retain 20ha of polytunnels throughout the year, 5.6ha of which would be heated by pumps drawing heat from the on-site reservoir and 14.4ha unheated. The polytunnels to be heated would be those closest to the on-site reservoir. These fields are those that have been identified as acceptable for year-round coverage.
Permission is also sought for a further 40ha of polytunnels across the site in fields identified as being acceptable. These would be erected on-site between 1st April and 31st October. The plastic sheeting of the polytunnels would be removed between 1st November and 31st March each year, with the legs and hoops remaining.
The application is supported by a Transport Statement by Bellamy Roberts LLP which sets out that the proposal would not result in an increase in vehicular movements during peak times. The proposal would increase the picking season by approximately 2 months but would not impact upon yield at peak times. No material impact on road safety is considered to result.
The following plan shows the proposed extent of polytunnels and their locations across the farm.
The site description.
Green Belt – outside of Rural Settlement Area
Area of Great Landscape Value (AGLV)
Adjacent to Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB)
Nearby Listed Buildings and Historic Parks and Gardens
Flood Zones 2 and 3
Ancient Woodland 500m Buffer Z0ne
Wealden Heaths I SPA 5km Buffer Zone
Wealden Heaths I SAC 2km Buffer Zone
Section 106 – original agreement in relation to application WA/2007//1962 with numerous variations since Area of High Archaeological Potential
Gas Pipe Line