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Residents lose polytunnels battle

S&A Produce site director Jason Davies-Baker
S&A Produce site director Jason Davies-Baker

A PLANNING appeal which it is feared will set a precedent for Kent and see 45 acres of Hernhill countryside covered in permanent polytunnels has been won.
Residents and Swale Borough Council have been left bitterly disappointed by government inspector Jennifer Vyse’s decision.
A list of planning conditions has been set out by the inquiry, which found in favour of site owners S&A, after a three-day hearing last month.
Their original application was turned down by the borough council last May, over concerns the development would be unsightly and spoil the environment.
A last-minute change of tactics by Swale not to fight the application on ecology issues has dealt the council an extra blow.
They have been ordered to pay the appellant’s costs for wasting their time and money in exploring this point in preparation for the hearing, which was originally due to be held on March 23.

The development will see tunnels, an irrigation reservoir, sedimentation pond, pumping station, associated works and temporary internal access roads built on the 66-acre site north west of the Thanet Way and south of Highstreet Road, Hernhill.
Any supposed detrimental impact of the development was balanced against the benefits it will bring to the area.
These are said to be the increase of 19 jobs to 39, a rise in the nursery’s contribution to the local economy of £6.2 million, an increase in consumer choice and a reduction in the need for foreign imports.

In her report on the appeal, Mrs Vyse ruled that although she was in no doubt that the development would alter the character and appearance of the appeal site, extra planting and landscaping would limit the damage to views.
She said: “Although the scale of the development is large, I am satisfied that it would not necessarily offend the defined landscape characteristics of the area.
“In my opinion, the development would respect the existing landscape structure of this part of the countryside, with the planting proposed will help to recreate lost landscape elements."

See this week's Faversham News for full story and reaction.

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