A large Herefordshire fruit grower has put forward plans for 9.5 hectares of new polytunnels.

The farmland in the planning application by Marden-based S&A Produce closely aligns with a larger, 13.5-hectare site where the company sought permission to erect polytunnels last May, an application it withdrew earlier this year after it drew nearly 100 objections.

It still intends to install fixed Spanish-type tunnels over soft fruit crops, presumed to be strawberries, in a table-top growing format, along with internal farm tracks, a new 650-square-metre portal-framed farm building, two ponds and six water storage tanks.

However the farm “has listened to the feedback received” from its previous application, and “has sought to address the concerns that were raised” in its new bid, a letter from its agent to Herefordshire Council says.


Dropping the two northernmost fields from the previous application would mean “there will be no polytunnels visible from The Vauld [or] from the Marden village side, reducing their visual impact to an absolute minimum”, while road access would be moved to the south of the site, the letter explains.

The application stresses the “vital importance” of polytunnels to the “thriving and successful UK soft fruit industry, wherein Herefordshire is the second largest growing area after Kent/Surrey”. They are “an established and familiar feature of the Herefordshire landscape”, it says.

Extending the company’s existing fruit-growing site at Brook Farm, Marden in this way would enable it to take advantage of existing infrastructure there, including packhouse, administrative offices, equipment and seasonal workers’ accommodation, the application adds.


An accompanying landscape and visual impact assessment concludes the tunnels would not intrude on important and sensitive views and would not harm the appearance of the surrounding countryside.

Previous field boundaries would be reinstated with new hedgerows to mitigate the visual impact, while other wildlife habitat measures are also proposed.

The application also addresses the impact on nearby historic farm buildings, on transport, on flooding and on drainage into the protected river Lugg catchment.

Comments on the application, numbered 231560, can be made until July 6.