NFU steps up planning debate

NFU planning advisor Ivan Moss urges growers to plan new glass more professionally.

Valley Grown Salads saw their planning appeal rejected - image: VGS
Valley Grown Salads saw their planning appeal rejected - image: VGS

The NFU is seeking answers from CLG minister Eric Pickles following the dismissal of the planning appeal made by Madestein UK (HW 31 August).

NFU planning advisor Ivan Moss first wrote to Pickles following the dismissal of the appeal made by Valley Grown Nursery in Essex (HW 28 September) but received an "unsatisfactory reply", so wrote again after Madestein also failed to win permission to build new glass.

He said: "We are not shouting or screaming. We are waiting to see the second letter and if the reply is unsatisfactory we'll probably pursue a more public campaign."

Moss told growers at the recent British Protected Ornamentals Association's Growers Look Ahead conference that the planning system is "a minefield you have to negotiate".

He said that there is a tension between the positive messages in paragraph 28 of the National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF) about growth and how local people view horticulture: "A key message is to not assume any prior knowledge of your industry by the public, the councillors or the planning officers. They have no idea how this industry works."

He advised: "You have to think like an objector - know your enemy. Look at your proposal and the weaknesses in it. The whole industry has to be much more professional and think about things much earlier on. People think that if they give information early they are giving ammunition to the opposition, but there are people willing to listen and unless you supply them with information from day one your opponents will get in first."

He added: "It used to be the case that submitting the application was the first part of the process. Now the application has to be the finished article. Think about investing money in consultants. You have to start thinking very early to maximise your chances of success."

He asked: "Is this the right site for your project? You don't want to be pushing a large stone up a steep hill. People often get an idea and want to drive it forward. They don't sit back at an early stage and think if it is going to happen. What is the objector going to pick up on?"

He said growers should emphasise job creation.

Failed applications

August, Sussex: Madestein planning appeal for 20ha glass fails.

June, Essex: Valley Grown appeal to build 87,000sqm glass fails.

March, Cheshire: Crosby's Nurseries 1.6ha glass application rejected.


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