A controversial plan to cover 30 hectares of rural Herefordshire in polytunnels which drew over 600 objections is to go to a planning appeal.

Mark Green of Ditton Farm, St Owen’s Cross, first submitted the plan for fields at the nearby Biddlestone Farm, Llangarron, in September 2017.

This required seven separate planning applications, covering the polytunnels themselves, a new driveway onto the A4137, three “balancing ponds” for water runoff, mobile homes and other facilities for seasonal workers, a farm building, pump house and loading dock.

The 8-metre-wide, 4.75-metre-high fixed tunnels would have housed table-top structures for growing soft fruit, presumed to be strawberries.

Originally there were to be 120 two-person accommodation pods at the centre of the site, housing up to 240 workers, alongside “welfare” pods, but the farm later revised these plans to say that most workers would instead be bussed into the site daily.

As well as around 600 individual objections, Bolstone & Hentland Group Parish Council said it objected the likely increase in traffic at St Owens Cross, “a known accident blackspot on the very busy A4137”.


The application was refused on the grounds that it had not shown there would be no harm to the “visual amenity and landscape character” of the area, nor harm to existing biodiversity.

Nor had it been shown that the proposed water management and drainage would not harm the River Wye special area of conservation (SAC) or increase the risk of flooding locally, nor that the road access would be safe, the planning officer ruled at the time.

But in a letter of appeal, the farm says landscaping mitigation measures it proposed would not only address the visual amenity but also bring biodiversity improvements.

The effect of the water management and drainage systems would “be neutral and will potentially result in a net improvement” to the SAC, and would “mitigate flood risk”, the farm’s submission said, and contended there would no increased risk to road safety either.

The three-day hearing will be held on November 8, 9 and 10 at Herefordshire Council’s Plough Lane headquarters from 10am each day, under Government-appointed inspector D Board.

Anyone wishing to attend in person must let the council know by email on Planning_appeals@herefordshire.gov.uk by October 17.

The hearing can be observed, but not contributed to, via Microsoft Teams, for which pre-registration is also required.