Couple apply again to grow business on land at Puddleslosh Lane

Nick Crowe and Sophia Fletcher with their goats at Sequoia Farm

Nick Crowe and Sophia Fletcher with their goats at Sequoia Farm

First published in News by

A COUPLE who were refused planning permission to live on their land to grow their new business near Fordingbridge have submitted another planning application.

The owners of C&F Gourmet Foods, Sophia Fletcher and Nick Crowe, want to live on agricultural land at Puddleslosh Lane at Tinkers Cross in a mobile home for three years while they produce rare meats, elephant garlic and mushrooms.

Scores of people objected to the plan when it was originally submitted, and New Forest District Council planners refused to let them stay on site at Sequoia Farm – but allowed them to keep the hard-standing area and access they had installed there.

Now Ms Fletcher and Mr Crowe have applied to the district council again, in addition to appealing the original refusal, and provided, they hope, more compelling evidence that an on-site presence is needed to make their enterprise a success. The pair moved the mobile home onto the site in February and a hard-standing and access were built.

The council issued a temporary stop notice, a subsequent stop notice and two enforcement notices against the development.

Neighbours protested in their droves, complaining that if the application was approved anyone could apply to live on cheap farmland.

Councillors agreed, refusing the mobile home, but granting the alterations already done on the site.

Now Miss Fletcher and Mr Crowe have applied again, and this time they have provided further evidence of the viability of their business, with declarations of intent from several high-end eateries and farm shops, including The Pig at Brockenhurst and Lime Wood Hotel in Lymington.

Their planning consultant Niall Tutton has also written at length to demonstrate the “essential need” for someone to live on site, and says there is nothing affordable to rent or buy close enough to the site.

A NFDC spokesman said: “We are aware that an appeal has been submitted to the Planning Inspectorate in respect of a previous application for this site.

“We have also recently received a further planning application for the continued siting of a mobile home on the site for three years.

“This application is supported by some additional information that the applicants hope will address some of the reasons for the previous refusal.”

Martine Brown, who lives near the site, said: “This is a popular recreational area of Fordingbridge that is frequented by many local people for walking, cycling and horse riding.

“It would be a great loss to the surrounding community if the views across the fields, which have been enjoyed by many over the years, were lost to misplaced mobile homes and unsightly shipping containers strewn across the land. “

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