Valley Grown Nurseries carries on with glasshouse work

Essex grower Valley Grown Nurseries is pressing ahead with crop production at its new 9ha tomato and pepper glasshouse despite an ongoing legal battle against the development by the authority that controls the regional park in which it lies, the company's former managing director Gary Taylor told the West Sussex Growers Association event.

The development was given the go-ahead by local planners in May last year, despite opposition from the Lee Valley Regional Park Authority on the grounds of visual impact. It applied to the High Court for a judicial review of the decision but this was rejected in April this year. It then took the case to the Court of Appeal, where a ruling is expected in January.

Taylor said of the park authority: "It seems to have a policy of 'just say no' - they are a barrier to any planning application. It's not even an area of outstanding natural beauty."

Meanwhile, the Lea Valley Food Task Force, made up of businesses, local authorities and educational bodies from the area, "is looking to have the Lee Valley made a Food Enterprise Zone", said Taylor. He pointed out that such zones "should be a top trump" when deciding planning applications.

He also praised the simplified National Planning Policy Framework as "one of the best things we can have as it gives added weight to food production within planning policy".

Taylor announced his intention to stand down as Lea Valley Growers Association chairman earlier this month after 10 years in the role.

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