Planning permission ruling falls foul of polytunnel users

Growers hit out at planning permission ruling for polytunnels

Users of polytunnels have hit out at a planning inspector’s ruling that they need planning permission to install the structures. Waverley Borough Council in Surrey ruled that Hall Hunter Partnership’s 60ha of polytunnels and 45 mobile homes on an area of great landscape value near Godalming were not exempted by the 1990 Town & Country Planning Act and harmed the countryside. Northern Polytunnels site manager Stuart Robinson said the development was worrying. He added that councils almost always granted permission for polytunnels, using the system as a money-making scheme. Cheshire-based grower and garden centre Bents’ marketing director Matthew Bent grows perennials in 1.2ha of polytunnels. He said: “It would be a shame if planning permission became necessary because it would affect a lot of horticulture businesses. Horticulture has always been seen to be aside from planning laws.” Broadcaster and columnist Peter Seabrook said: “I think that the decision is a disaster for the whole industry. It will prompt other local residents to stir up trouble.” Waverley major sites manager Brian Titmuss said the decision would influence other inspectors. He called for better government guidance on polytunnel planning. But TV gardener Monty Don said the decision would stop large-scale agricultural businesses operating on the same basis as small nurseries.

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