Fruit farm gets permission to install polytunnels across 27 acres in Chartham, Canterbury

One of the UK’s biggest fruit farming firms has won permission to erect polytunnels across a 27-acre site, despite fears about their impact on the countryside.

FW Mansfield and Son say more frequent and heavier rainstorms are destroying its cherry crop at Nickle Farm in Chartham. To protect its produce, it wants to install sheeted tunnels in six different locations at its sprawling base off the A28. Mansfields says the protective polytunnels are “an essential feature of soft and top fruit growing in modern farming practice,” but the plans attracted criticism from neighbors and Chartham Parish Council, who were concerned that the structures would become instant “blots on the landscape.”

Despite the letters of objection, Canterbury City Council’s planning team has green-lit the project. A decision report compiled by council officers states: “The development is outside of the Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, and many of the polytunnels are not visible due to the topography or hidden by existing landscaping,  so while some polytunnels may be visible from long-distance views, this is not considered to be harmful in this instance. They are separated sufficiently from neighbors and would not result in any overbearing impacts, loss of light, light glare, loss of privacy, or overshadowing.”

Mansfields says there is an increased demand for high-quality UK-grown fruit, so better protection for produce is required.

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