Expansion plan for farm rejected

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A PLANNING inspector has backed the decision to refuse a farming company permission to build more mushroom-growing polytunnels in a village near Ripon.

The application by Greyfriars to build three more polytunnel sheds in Wath was rejected by Harrogate Borough Council in January, which said the siting and colour of the tunnels would be harmful to the character and view of the landscape.

The company appealed to the Planning Inspectorate against the decision but inspector Alison Roland has dismissed the appeal on the basis of the “isolated nature” of the 465 square metre (sqm) facility.

She said: “Whilst I have found in favour of the proposal on the issue of the colour of the buildings, this is outweighed by their isolated siting relative to the existing buildings which would harmfully impact on the character and quality of the landscape.”

Permitted development rights allow Greyfriars to add 465sqm to their farming operation every two years but this is the second time in nine months that the Planning Inspectorate has dismissed appeals by the company against Harrogate Borough Council decisions to refuse permission for such a development.

Greyfriars chairman John Smith said: “I’m concerned as farmers we are being given a hard time to develop our business at a time when we want to reduce food miles.

“It is disappointing that the planners arrived at this decision but it doesn’t deter us to grow and develop our business or increase the amount of locally-produced mushrooms that we intend to grow and market.”

Mr Smith also questioned how isolated the proposed development was, saying it would have been around 15 yards from existing polytunnels.

But the decision has been welcomed by local action group WAM (Wath Against Mushrooms) which has waged a campaign against any expansion at the farm.

A spokesman said: “We are delighted at this decision and feel that our on-going campaign has been thoroughly vindicated.

“Greyfriars’ expansion plans have so far been comprehensively rejected by the local community, the council and now twice by separate planning inspectors. When will they get the message? The countryside is no place for this development.”