A plan for 40 new caravans to house seasonal workers along with new facilities at a south Herefordshire fruit farm has been passed, but only for five years.

Mr B Savidge of Woodfields Farm near Weston under Penyard wanted to increase the number of caravans at the farm by 40, including 11 relocated from another farm, and to re-site a further 19 already at Woodfields Farm.

The application also sought to relocate within the farm a previously approved workers’ welfare building housing indoor leisure facilities, and an outdoor barbecue area.


A Herefordshire Council planning committee meeting heard today (February 8) that this would bring to 236 the number of workers living on the farm, an increase of 156 on the current figure.

Weston Under Penyard parish council said it was concerned about public rights of way through the site. Keeping two of these clear of obstruction had been a condition of the original permission for the fruit polytunnels at the farm, but these “have been severely obstructed for some years”, it said.

With polytunnels covering the whole of the field in question, “the applicant has been in breach of his planning consent for ten years and remains in breach to this day”, the parish council said.

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A local resident, Suzanne Reynolds, said that last summer, the noise from the farm was “horrendous and extremely upsetting”, and that an increase in numbers living there “would impact my mental and physical health to an even greater degree”.

Local ward member Coun William Winding said that in addition to footpaths and noise, he had heard concerns about sewage and traffic.

“Residents have put the smell of sewage above noise as their number-one complaint,” he said, and felt there had been a “failure of the planning department in not fully appreciating the residents’ situation”.


Agent for the farm Julie Joseph said the plan would bring no increase in farm traffic, and “simply seeks to consolidate the accommodation of seasonal workers on-site”. This would save on minibus trips from other sites, bringing a net decease in vehicle movements, she said.

“Since the pandemic and Brexit there have been difficulties in accessing suitable labour for fruit picking, so it has become important to provide improved facilities for seasonal workers to ensure their retention,” she explained.

She pointed out that beyond the “low” number of five local objections, there had been no formal objections from officials.

The council’s environmental health officer Phillipa Long had earlier said that a noise management plan from the farm “addressed the areas of concern raised”. This would be reviewed every six months, and introduced a complaints and monitoring system which includes permanent on-site supervision”.

Planning officer Heather Carlisle said the farm would need to obtain a separate consent to re-route the public rights of way.

Their obstruction was not a grounds for refusing the current scheme, “as there are appropriate measures through different legislation to resolve this dispute”, her report to the committee said.

Coun Wilding’s proposal to defer a decision on the application to allow more time for residents’ concerns to be addressed was supported by committee member Coun Felicity Norman.

But Coun Paul Rone, chairing, said that deferring the decision “may make the business not viable”, and the proposal was rejected by the committee.

Instead, Coun Nigel Shaw of the committee said giving conditional consent for five years “might be prudent, in that if a lot of complaints are received, at the end of the five years the consent is removed”.

The application was passed with this condition.