Madestein UK fails to overturn rejection of glasshouse development plans on appeal

Plans to build a £21m 20ha glasshouse to grow lettuce near the West Sussex coast have been scuppered after an appeal by salad grower Madestein UK was rejected by the Planning Inspectorate.

Glasshouses: growers running out of space
Glasshouses: growers running out of space

The company's original planning application to Chichester District Council was rejected in March last year. Following a 14-day enquiry costing more than £125,000, a planning inspector issued a report upholding the council's decision.

West Sussex Growers Association (WSGA) executive consultant John Hall, who advised Madestein during the appeal process, told Grower: "This sets a precedent and it will send reverberations through the industry. There are some very big issues in this area that at the moment are impeding development. Many of our growers have run out of space and this can only make matters more difficult."

He criticised the council's policy on zonal development, saying the proposed glasshouse site was adjacent to one of its four horticultural development areas and these "are old smallholdings - they are fragmented and impossible to build a glasshouse of any size on".

Elsewhere on the Manhood peninsula, the area south of Chichester that boasts the highest light levels in the whole country, "a monopoly of land ownership makes development difficult", Hall added.

Local Conservative MP Andrew Tyrie had earlier given his support to a well-funded local campaign against the development that "may have had a bearing" on the decision, said Hall. When the WSGA next meets Tyrie in October "we will have a robust discussion of the issues around this", he added.

Janet Duncton, cabinet member for planning and housing at the local authority, said she was "delighted" at the decision.

Madestein declined to comment on the decision.

Reasons for refusal

Chichester District Council's original decision, backed up by the planning inspector's latest report, claimed that the glasshouse would:

- Be outside the area's designated horticultural development areas;

- Have an adverse effect on the landscape; and

- Bring an unacceptable rise in heavy goods traffic unsuitable for the area's narrow roads.

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