TWO SOFT fruit farms near Stafford have been given the green light to keep their polytunnels, despite objections from nearby residents.
Stafford Borough Council’s planning committee approved applications for the retention of polytunnels at Bradley Hall Farm and Littywood Farm, both in Bradley, on Friday.
The applications, submitted by Littywood Farms Ltd, relate to strawberry production.
The polytunnels enable the growing season to be extended, running from May to November, instead of the traditional June/July period.
John Heath, agent speaking on behalf of farmer George Busby, told the committee: “Soft fruit requirement by supermarkets is growing.
“Financial margins in farming have slipped over the past decades; even a fortnight ago two pence per litre was sliced off the price of farm gate milk.
Diversification on farms has been necessary and extremely lucrative.” But the council received one objection to the Bradley Hall Farm application and six to the Littywood Farm plans.
Concerns included highways and infrastructure not being suited to the traffic, mud on roads and the effect on the vista.
Bradley Parish Council also submitted a letter to the borough council.
“Drainage water is going onto the roads, causing problems for other road users,” the letter said.
“There are concerns about the volume of traffic and type of vehicles in use. The council is worried there could be an accident.” Ward councillor Barry Stamp said: “The residents of Bradley all agree that diversification is necessary in farming. I think what concerns the residents is the impact this is having on their lives.
“Littywood Lane is very narrow and a lot of traffic goes through Bradley village.
There are a lot of fruit farms in the area and the traffic crosses in Bradley.” Both applications had previously been recommended for approval. The committee was told that conditions included no more than 20.06ha being used to site polytunnels at any one time at Littywood Farm and no more than 8.5 ha at Bradley Hall Farm. Means of wheel washing was also required to tackle the issue of mud on local roads.