A FARMING family near Church Eaton which needs extra workers has been granted 18 months’ permission for temporary homes – but now faces the challenge of securing permanent accommodation.
Manor Farm in Marston, run by the Cox family, requires three key staff on site at any time to comply with welfare regulations for their cattle.
The dairy herd was doubled two years ago to around 600 head of cattle, and the Coxes currently own 700 acres and rent a further 290 acres, making it one of the largest operations in the area.
They also have around 60 beef cattle and a 100-strong flock of Suffolk sheep.
Although three generations of the family live at the farm in three properties the elder Mr Cox and his wife are no longer actively involved on the farm, while their son Steven Cox, and his daughter Rachel, are currently restricted on the work they can undertake due to medical conditions. Steven Cox and his wife are involved in overall management while son Tom is a principal key staff member.
Four farm workers are currently living on site in temporary accommodation but the Coxes are seeking a more permanent housing solution.
They submitted a plan to Stafford Borough Council for a farmworker’s house but withdrew it just days before it was due to be determined by councillors, after it was recommended for refusal.
However a second application for three mobile homes to remain on site for 18 months was unanimously approved by the planning committee at last week’s meeting.
A report to the council about the withdrawn application said “The applicant has failed to demonstrate the ‘essential need’ for a fourth permanent agricultural worker’s dwelling on the site and as such the proposal would constitute unnecessary and unsustainable development in the countryside.”
But Steven Cox has reported difficulties in maintaining “good quality staff” due to lack of accommodation on site. Speaking after last week’s planning meeting he said there were plans to submit another appli- cation for permanent staff accommodation.
He said: “We expanded the dairy herd because we needed to move forward in this industry and we bought extra land. We need extra people on site because of the welfare of the animals more than anything.But the councillors were supportive of the temporary homes. I think they want to help.”
Councillors had been recommended to restrict the temporary homes’ permission to 12 months, but called for the full 18 months instead to give the Coxes time to sort out permanent accommodation.