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in the news... wrongthingwrongplace.com

timeline from August 2016 to November 2016

how the media and residents reported plans to build a caviar farm on grass slopes in East Chiltington, East Sussex

No one would have believed as 2016 began that the UK's national media would descend on the residents of a hamlet in East Sussex to feret a news story about a planning application. But in August 2016 two pastural fields on a hill were purchased by a London based caviar trader who had a fantastical plan to apparently upcycle them into a caviar farm with luxurious housing for the lucky agricultural workers.


August 22, 2016

August Bank Holiday and the sweet thwack of mallets tap tapping in the new "say no to caviar farm" posters resounds down Chiltington Lane

"...residents of Chiltington Lane get letters in the post saying there has been another application to build a caviar farm alongside some of their houses." ...read more

August 26, 2016

wrong thing wrong place - say no to caviar farm (site launch)

"Let's have a look at the basic idea If you wanted to build a fish farm where would you put it?."

September 1, 2016

caviar farm developer gets fast response from East Sussex Highways to remove local protest signs

"A van bearing the logo of East Sussex Highways was seen driving along Chiltington Lane, in East Chiltington near Lewes this morning and stopping to remove and take away A3 signs which had been put up by residents outside their houses and driveways in a mile long protest against a planning application by a London based development company to "improve" the local landscape and biodiversity..."

September 8, 2016

Residents Meet to Protest Caviar Farm Plan in Chiltington Lane, near Lewes

"Residents of East Chiltington, St. Johns Without and Cooksbridge met last Sunday evening (September 4, 2016) to discuss their concerns about a recent application to Lewes District Council to build a caviar farm in Chiltington Lane, East Chiltington (planning application LW/16/0695)."

September 9, 2016

Residents at war with Britain's first Caviar farmer

by Joel Adams in - the Argus

"As you drive through East Chiltington, along a single track road past a 200-year-old forge, the only traffic to interrupt your journey is the occasional horse rider out for an afternoon hack through the unspoilt countryside. Butterflies flit between scattered houses dotted along lanes which follow the course of an ancient winterbourne, a tiny waterway which in colder months carries run-off from the chalk hills of the adjacent South Downs National Park. So it is easy to see why the residents of one of the smallest parishes in England might be concerned about proposals to build what they describe as a "semi- industrial" fish farm in the midst of their rural idyll."

Locals oppose plans for East Sussex's first caviar farm

by Adam Vaughan and Aletha Adu in - the Guardian

"Placards reading "say no to Caviar farm", "save our sea trout" and "eating up our landscape" have sprouted from hedges at almost every home along the main road, which nestles below the South Downs escarpment. With immaculately kept gardens running along the virtually traffic-free Chiltington Lane it is a picture postcard English hamlet."

Hamlet residents' anger at fish egg farmer's plan to produce caviar

by Leon Watson - in - the Telegraph

"Protesters say that plans to drain water per day from natural resources will drain the water table so badly that native sea trout will no longer be able to use the stream, which only runs strongly in the winter months, to spawn. Villagers are also concerned (about) the scale of the earthworks necessary to create the scheme..."

Caviar farm? That's trout of order!

by Ben Wilkinson - in the Daily Mail

"A caviar farmer's plans for a tiny village have outraged residents who fear the luxury food farm will spoil their rural idyll... Since plans were lodged last month villagers have been erecting signs featuring cartoonish fish, with the slogan - Save Our Sea Trout."

Residents complain about caviar farm

in the the Express

A resident said - "There is the sheer stupidity of the proposal itself, however much the applicant may try to bombard you with 'science' it should be clear common sense that no-one in their right mind would seek to build a fish farm on a slope above a watercourse."

The Express said - So far ten letters of objection from the community have been sent into the planning committee at Lewes District Council, East Sussex.

Correction:- this report in the Express gave a misleadingly low impression of local concerns about this planning application. Even as late as September 25, 2016 - 9 days after the closing period for comments - the LDC planning site still hadn't caught up with incoming objections. (More about this later.)

Other miss-reporting:- the Express used a stock aerial image of a fish farm somewhere else on planet Earth alongside a caption talking about East Chiltington. The photo was not the Chiltington caviar farm site where there are no pre-existing ponds or lakes. As you can see on the maps here.

September 10, 2016

Caviar farmer lobbies MP as councillors raise objections

by Joel Adams in - the Argus

Residents in the tiny hamlet packed (a parish council meeting) on Thursday to share their fierce opposition to the plan over the the scale of changes to the landscape, the demands it will place on the natural water supply and its potential impact on sea trout spawning grounds.

The developer Mr Kenning (who lives in London) told The Argus: "It's all about farming, and this is the right place because East Chiltington is a farming community. If you don't like it, don't live there."

See also:- East Chiltington Parish Council says No to Caviar Farm, Minutes of a meeting East Chiltington Parish Council to discuss caviar farm

September 15, 2016

Residents of East Chiltington hamlet fight farmer's plans to build caviar fish farm

heard on More Radio

"The landscape is going to be completely changed, it is a bit like what they call terraforming from science fiction stories."

September 16, 2016 - the initial deadline date for comments

"Iit feels like an exam and high noon" - WrongThingWrong Place.com

BBC Sussex Breakfast

interview by Neil Pringle - BBC Radio Sussex

Neil played an interview with the developer and London based caviar trader Ken Benning who lodged the planning application. Benning said -

"There are no ponds on the site... The professionals have stated clearly we will greatly increase the biodiversity of this area."

Neil Pringle introduced the next speaker - "Janet Downes is a local resident, organiser of the Chiltington caviar farm action group - which is a name I wasn't expecting to read out this year. Hello Janet."

"Hello Neil"

""A few ponds? That doesn't sound environmentally damaging" said Neil

"It doesn't does it. But when you realise how much earth they're going to have to move to build his 6 ponds and a reservoir, along with his farm buildings and mobile (not very) home... then you realise the impact this will have and to say it will increase biodiversity is a joke. I mean it beggars belief that this scale of land movement will improve this piece of lovely landscape."

September 26, 2016

This was a note on the wrong thing wrong place dot com home page.

"10 days after the deadline for comments and objections related to LW/16/0695 (the Caviar Farm plan in East Chiltington) the Lewes District Council Web site (which had for over 2 weeks got stuck and showed the situation only upto September 2nd) has been changing throughout the course of the day in an attempt to catch up with the embarrassing backlog to make this deluge of public interest information visible."

September 28, 2016

Overwhelming Rejection of Caviar Farm Plans from Local Residents

an update story from the Chiltington caviar farm action group

Is Caviar Ken's Campaign Crumbling?

"'As of yesterday evening the Lewes District Council planning website showed that 104 individuals had registered their formal objection to this plan. Most of the objectors are local residents. Given the size of our parish this is an overwhelming demonstration of opposition to this scheme,' said Janet Downes, local resident and organiser of the Chiltington Caviar Farm Action Group,

'In addition respected groups such as the CPRE (the Campaign for the Protection of Rural England) and OART (the Ouse and Adur Rivers Trust) have objected, as have East Chiltington and Hamsey parish councils. Our District Councillor, Sarah Osborne, and our MP, Maria Caulfield, support the residents. The NFU has told me directly that they do not support this application.'

She continued, '45 people expressed support in comments on the LDC website – none of them live in East Chiltington. Most of them come from London or further afield. It is becoming apparent that this scheme has less backing than Mr Benning led people to believe.'

November 18, 2016

Fury over decision which could make UK's first Caviar farm a reality

by Joel Adams in - the Argus

"Planning officers for Lewes District Council have recommended that an application for a six-acre fish farm in East Chiltington, north of Plumpton, be granted by councillors at a meeting next week." ...read the LDC officer's report here (pdf)

Zsolt Kerekes, whose property is adjacent to the fallow fields on which the fish ponds would be sited, said "There were 110 objection letters, and not a single letter of support from the village.

If common sense has anything to do with it there'd be no caviar farm in East Chiltington. The consultation has raised a lot of issues which are now in the public domain so I want councillors to make their own decisions based on all that."

The reporter Joel Adams says - "If this story appeared on The Archers, the BBC would be overwhelmed with complaints that it was too far fetched."

November 18, 2016

caviar farm plan will be determined Wednesday

A recently published report from the Lewes planning officer - LW/16/0695 (pdf) recommends acceptance of a plan to create a caviar farm in East Chiltington.

This preliminary judgement appears to many residents in Chiltington Lane to substantially discount, disregard and completely fail to understand the significance of the body of evidence collected by objectors during the consultation process.

But the risk that this might happen was not entirely unexpected given the complexity and unusual aspects of the caviar farm scheme itself and the attitude and tone of communications from the planning office which often conveyed the impression that the residents were a nuisance who got in the way of serious progress.

Nevertheless the good thing about where we have arrived at the planning process is that the data and supporting arguments for both sides (representing thousands of hours of effort) are now well documented and in the public domain.

It will be up to the experienced members of the planning committee to review summaries of the planning considerations involved without fear or favor and let us know what they think.

The Chiltington Caviar Farm planning application will be put before the Lewes District Council Planning Application Committee (PAC) on 23rd November (17.00-21.00 at Council Chamber, County Hall, St Annes Crescent, Lewes).

November 23, 2016

Caviar farm developer makes ungentlemanly comments about MP in caviar farm row

by Flora Thompson in - the Argus

This article reports several ungentlemanly remarks made to the paper made by Ken Benning (who has submitted plans for a caviar farm in East Chiltington) who was commneting on a report that Lewes MP Maria Caulfield has apparently asked the Secretary of State to consider reviewing the decision.

The Argus says "Her request, known as "calling it in", means if Lewes District Council's planning committee approves the application tonight, it will be deferred to Mr Javid to consider."

Lewes PAC votes to reject caviar farm plan


The meeting at Council Chamber, County Hall, St Annes Crescent, Lewes tonight was well attended with around 30 objectors present (25 of whom wore Say No to Caviar Farm T-shirts which echoed the design of posters which had been seen along the lanes since the August Bank Holiday). You'll see a photo in the Argus later.

The 2 hour meeting was an edge of the seat affair culminating in a 7 to 1 vote to reject the application on 3 main groups of planning technicalities.

November 23, 2016

Residents 'elated' after council rejects caviar farm

by Joel Adams in - the Argus

Joel Adams (who attended the meeting) reported - "Lewes District Council planning committee members voted seven to none, with one abstention, to reject the six-acre fish farm in East Chiltington. The vote went against the advice of the local authority's planning officers who recommendation the application was granted."

"In proposing the motion to refuse the application, councillor Vic Ient cited concerns over the viability of the experimental business model, the impact on the character of the area and the plan's failure to enhance the community. Several councillors also expressed concern over the inclusion of a three-bedroom house on site."

In an interview after the result leading campaigner Janet Downes said: "I feel elated. We thought our chances were about 50-50 and I certainly didn't expect such an overwhelming result. We know the developer will appeal, but we'll be ready for him."

Many attendees had already leftt the building when someone called for a photo to add to the story. The Argus has one and another can be seen in a tweet here by Councillor Sarah Osborne.

BBC Sussex Breakfast

interview by Neil Pringle - BBC Radio Sussex

Shortly after the main news at 8 am Neil Pringle carried out a live interview with the caviar farm plan applicant - Ken Benning who lives in London and who bought the land in August 2016 which had been retained as a future development asset by his parents when they left the village over a decade earlier.

This was followed by questions to Janet Downes who lives in one of the houses next to the sloping caviar farm fields - and who was one of the 110 objectors to the plan. (There were no letters of support for the plan from anyone in East Chiltington or from anyone living within more than a mile from of the planned site. The closest supporters from several miles away were Benning's parents who had sold him the landbanked agricultural use fields.)

A partial transcript from the radio show will appear here later. In the meantime click on the BBC website and fast forward to about 8.05 am to hear what was said.

November 24, 2016

Caviar farm rejected by Lewes planning committee

heard on More Radio

Among other things the wouldbe caviar farm plan developer Ken Benning said - "We have come under a lot of scrutiny, unfair scrutiny."

WTWP Editor's comments:- Scrutiny? - Yes deservedly so as part of the free and democratic planning process.

This is not a dictatorship where property speculators can do whatever they want irrespective of the likely harm to the environment and their neighbours.

The answer to the developer's crocodile tears is - if you don't want the scrutiny - don't lodge silly plans. There is no excuse for such feigned timidity and ignorance of the environmental and planning issues given the scale of objection for the earlier iteration of this speculative venture in April.

November 25, 2016

Sussex Express - Lewes edition - front page - November 25, 2016 - wrong thing wrong placeWrong thing, wrong place?

Sussex Express

Wrong thing, wrong place? was the front page story in the Lewes edition of the Sussex Express which ran a story about the decision by Lewes District Council to reject the application for a caviar farm in East Chiltington.

Recalling some of the background to this planning decision which spilled over into a ruckus between the developer and the local MP the Sussex Express article said - "Residents (had) reacted in in fury to the application and expressed their objections through a campaign entitled - Wrong Thing, Wrong Place."

November 28, 2016
For Sale sign - appears at gate of caviar farm site
Monday, November 28, 2016

At the weekend a new sign appeared at the gate of the contentious caviar farm site in Chiltington Lane - "for sale".

Indications are that offers for the 6 acre site should be in the region over 100,000.
for sale sign at the gate of contentious caviar farm site in East Chiltington
... click on the above image to see the brochure

For more details contact Simon Henkel at the Haywards Heath office of the estate agents Batcheller Monkhouse (tel 01444 453 181).

January 20, 2017
All's well that ends well
January 20, 2017 - Last weekend we learned of a happy ending to the story of the "caviar farm" fields in Chiltington Lane.

The entire site has been bought by a neighbouring family who were prominent campaigners against the development. And these much argued over fields - which for over a decade had become disconnected from anyone living here - will now retain their historic character as pastureland.

Although this planning battle was fraught and caused many sleepless nights for those who care about the countryside - there have been good things which came out of it too.

We always felt that this tranquil part of East Chiltington was a special place and the heritage value of its natural rural character has now been revalidated and confirmed by the formal planning process and the arguments associated with it. This part of East Chiltington is now strongly protected against any developments which threaten its traditional rural character.

It brought people together in a common cause to meet and talk about how they could protect the English countryside.

Chiltington Lane - which was always a place where people would stop and chat while walking or riding or cycling (and even driving) through (the latter by dint of stopping the car and winding down the windows, putting on the hazard warning lights and taking as much time as necessary to pass the time of day, because it might be another 20 minutes before another car came along, and if they did they would understand) has become (who would have believed it possible - before the caviar farm saga?) an even friendlier place.

We have a newly acquired confidence which comes not only from sharing a lovely part of the English countryside but the certain knowledge that if anyone should try to take it away or harm it in any way then there will be a banding together of like minded staunch defenders who by the combination of their many hidden talents and energies should not be underestimated.

Thanks again to everyone who helped us. (Including one of our hearty band who sadly did not live to see that his cause had won. Although we will always value the many things he taught us about fishing and streams and ponds.)

whatever next?

2021 - Eton plans to concrete over East Chiltington with new town
say no poster - landscape image

Sussex Express - Lewes edition - front page - November 25, 2016 - wrong thing wrong place

Wrong thing, wrong place? - image above shows the front page of the Sussex Express - Lewes edition - Friday, November 25, 2016 - with a story reporting on Wednesday's council planning application meeting decision which was confirmed officially today.


Caviar farm developer makes ungentlemanly comments about Lewes MP in caviar farm row

reporting in the Argus (November 23, 2016)

Caviar farming - lessons from Germany

In order to understand the caviar farm planning application at East Chiltington LW/16/069 (and its predecessor LW/16/0180) we found many interesting articles and papers on the web which were helpful. These articles were quoted in several of the objection letters sent to the Lewes planning office in early September 2016 which discussed some of the risks of production and marketing, and the ethical and licensing considerations which surround this type of venture.

The fairy tale of the massaged sturgeon - this story appeared in the German newspaper Taz - and discusses a pioneering no-kill caviar business which was launched with much fanfare in 2014. What received less media coverage was what happened to this German business afterwards.

Milking Fish - this story appeared in the German newspaper Der Spiegel and discusses the history of hormonal treatment of sturgeon to produce no-kill caviar which resulted in a world wide patented process. In the original German caviar business called Vivace - the hormonal treatement of the fish was originally licensed under "animal testing" laws. The article says that "experts deem this to be harmless for consumers."

Caviar farming - lessons from Canada

How a plan to sell New Brunswick caviar went so wrong - this story appeared in the Canadian magazine Macleans.ca. It shows how even well funded caviar farms with government grants have gone bust due to a variety of problems including:- sickness in the fish, low cost competition from China and Europe, contaminated groundwater, and complex regulations.

Where inexactly is Chiltington Lane?
East Chiltington Parish Council says No to Caviar Farm
LDC LW/16/0695 - a rhyme of the Romans winterbourne
Developer gets East Sussex Highways to remove local protest signs
Residents Meet to Protest Caviar Farm Plan in Chiltington Lane, near Lewes

say no to new town - wrong thing wrong place

In February 2021 the residents of East Chiltington learned that Eton College had plans to destroy their way of life by concreting over vast swathes of Sussex downland to build an unasked for and entirely unnecessary new town.

No Eton New Town sign in East Chiltington May 2021
No Eton New Town - say signs in the lanes

news:- May 10, 2021 - Signs are appearing in the lanes around East Chiltington to grab the attention of visitors to warn that this countryside will be lost if Eton College makes any progress with its new town plan. ...read the story