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Rare breed animals at King Oaks near Ulcombe die as farmer waits for planning permission

A farmer from Maidstone says a planning battle with a parish council has cost several animals their lives after repeated objections to farm upgrades.

Norman Coles runs Roundoak farm in East Sutton and Kings Oak farm in Ulcombe where he breeds rare sheep and cattle.

Norman Coles runs Roundoak and Kings Oak farm
Norman Coles runs Roundoak and Kings Oak farm

After overcoming a planning struggle with East Sutton Parish Council over Roundoak farm years ago, Mr Coles now has a permanent home on site and can tend to the animals 24/7.

He now owns Kings Oak farms and wants to install buildings so someone can be on site permanently - he says several of his animals have died because no-one was around to help when they got into difficulties.

The 66-year-old applied for planning permission to create temporary accommodation but says the project has been delayed because of objections from Ulcombe Parish Council.

The farm owner says: "We need to have someone on Kings Oak permanently to tend to the animals but the parish council don't seem to think it's necessary.

"We are currently working through lambing season and are having a really difficult time as a result of the objections.

One of Mr Coles' Highland cattle had to be transported five miles to Roundoak farm to retrieve care before she died.
One of Mr Coles' Highland cattle had to be transported five miles to Roundoak farm to retrieve care before she died.

"Although we eventually gained permission for a temporary dwelling, this has now been delayed and because of that, some of the animals have died.

"Last week, I lost a cow with twin calves who died a terrible and cruel death. Had somebody been on site we could have done something sooner and perhaps saved the cow and calves.

"Last Monday morning, another cow gave birth to a perfect calf - when we arrived the calf had died. Yet again had someone been on site this could have been avoided."

Mr Coles said despite the fact an agricultural expert appointed by Maidstone Borough Council's planning department supported the application, Ulcombe Parish Council still did not.

He added: "They argued that there was no reason for a permanent person to be on site and that everything could be serviced from Sutton Valence some five miles away.

Rare White Park cattle at Mr Coles' farm
Rare White Park cattle at Mr Coles' farm

"We have tried to service both farms from Roundoak but it is particularly difficult via the narrow lanes with our large farm equipment.

"Feeding and visits are needed sometimes three times a day so there needs to be someone here.

"I'm glad I do now have permission for temporary accommodation but the fight I have had has been horrendous.

"We are now on track with this project but had there not been delays, those animal would still be alive."

Mr Coles said he has the same problems with East Sutton Parish Council when he first started Roundoak farm in 2007.

East Sutton Parish Council said once concerns were addressed the situation was resolved.

Ulcombe Parish Council has been approached for comment.

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