One of Britain’s largest soft fruit growers has been refused permission to expand production under polytunnels at a Herefordshire farm, and to station 18 seasonal workers’ caravans alongside.

Ledbury-based Haygrove applied in April last year to install for up to 6.5 hectares of new tunnels on fields at its Huntington site by the Welsh border.

These would be used to grow late-fruiting cherries and organic blueberries, and were to be covered with plastic only between April and October – though the supporting hoops would remain year-round. The company already has 18 hectares of polytunnels at the farm.


The seasonal caravans would typically house six workers each, giving a seasonal population of over a hundred at the site.

Ths plan was opposed by Natural England, by campaigning charity CPRE Herefordshire, as well as by Herefordshire Council’s landscape, ecology and building conservation officers, and by 33 members of the public.

Huntington parish council meanwhile objected on grounds of increased traffic and the extra water abstraction from the adjacent Gladestry Brook, home the endangered white-clawed crayfish.


And neighbouring Brilley parish council said the caravans were analogous to over 30 permanent homes and should be assessed as such.

Planning officer Adam Lewis concluded that the plan would support rural economic development and food security, while the traffic impact would be acceptable.

But he said a group of locals had come to a very different conclusion on the visual impact of the scheme to the that submitted with the application, which had described the tunnels as temporary.

What are your thoughts?

You can send a letter to the editor to have your say by clicking here.

Letters should not exceed 250 words and local issues take precedence.

The existing polytunnels “are undeniably a negative feature in the landscape, and their presence should not provide precedent for further expansion”, which would “exacerbate the sprawling effect”, Mr Lewis said.

The caravans would meanwhile “appear as stark and alien features” in the landscape, and together with the tunnels would harm the setting of Huntington Castle, a grade II listed scheduled monument, and of the locally designated Huntington Park nearby.

He also gave “significant weight” to potential harm from the development to the protected Wye and Lugg river catchments.