|strange tale of the
Caviar Farm in Chiltington Lane - news archive 2016|
|Say no to
the caviar farm plan in East Chiltington, Lewes|
You did say no (in
2016) and we won
Zsolt Kerekes -
|This web site wrongthingwrongplace.com
was launched on
August 22, 2016 to support a campaign by residents of
East Chiltington to stop plans
for an imaginative and unique "agricultural" development by an
absentee landowner - a caviar farm in
Lane - which was just the wrong
thing in the wrong place. That was long ago done and dusted. |
so I wondered do we need this web site any more? I was glad that I
hadn't clicked the "don't renew web services buttons" related to this
web site - when - in 2021 - a completely new threat from a
different quarter appeared at the end of the lane - on land owned by Eton
College - which you can read about in the
versus East Chiltington chronicles
And what about the Caviar
Farm in the wrong place? If that's why you're here... You can read
that salty old tale here below.
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. |
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.
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.
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.
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
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
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.)
sign - appears at gate of caviar farm site|
|Monday, November 28, 2016
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.
||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).
votes to reject caviar farm plan|
|Wednesday, November 23, 2016
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).
||some of the 30+
local resident objectors |
as they were leaving the council meeting
| 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.
Despite the tension associated with these proceedings I was
impressed that in their deliberations councillors mixed humour with wisdom and
demonstrated that they not only had done their homework reading and grasping
the significance of the material presented by contributors from both sides of
this planning process but they were also drawing on their wider experiences of
planning too and they were prepared to test and challenge the validity and
internal consistency of the arguments which had been presented.
behalf of the residents of East Chiltington I'd like to say thanks to the
thousands of people who took an interest in and supported the Say No to
Caviar Farm plan campaign including the many walkers, cyclists and runners
who pass through the lane and who live in Lewes, Brighton and outside the
immediate area and who could often be heard discussing the signs along
In my own objection
letter I wrote about
the magic of hidden rural locations in the English countryside and said...
"it is our duty as those privileged to live here not only to record why we
like it (as many locals have been doing this month in the Rural Assessment
Survey) and it is also our duty to protect it for those who pass through and to
ensure that others in the future can enjoy it after we have left. But
protecting the landscape and messy organic character of places like this is
important for those who live elsewhere too. Because it makes them feel good to
know that such places still exist.
We cant all live in castles or
national trust properties or heritage countryside but it's jolly comforting to
know they are still there."
|in the news -
media timeline about the caviar farm plan|
inexactly is Chiltington Lane?
gets East Sussex Highways to remove local protest signs
of related documents and comments on Lewes Council's planning site
110 objections to caviar farm - Is Caviar Ken's Campaign Crumbling?
from the MP for Lewes: Proposed Caviar Farm in East Chiltington
developer makes ungentlemanly comments about MP in caviar farm row
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.
Discontertingly a typo in the
originally released letter from LDC included an informative(s) note which
seemed to contradict the first part of the letter.
So Janet Downes
from Chiltington House phoned Andrew Hill the planning officer this afternoon
(25/11/2016) and extracted a verbal assurance that the letter would be
reissued with the mistake corrected.
For more archived media coverage
of the "say no to caviar farm in East Chiltington" story see the
in the news
what's this all about?
22nd, 2016... fine weather at last for the summer holidays in the UK
but residents in the quiet rural East Sussex hamlet of
Chiltington Lane start getting
letters in the post from
District Council warning about a large scale development planning
application. The deadline for official responses and objections is September
16th. This is a residents' action site to focus efforts to protect the
character of where we live and saying - No - to the caviar farm. It's
the wrong thing in the wrong place. If you're concerned and want to do
something about it - scroll down this page to learn more .
before and after This is a satellite view to show the context of
what the caviar site looked like before excavation in the summer of 2014
to dig "test ponds".
That work didn't have planning
permission. Lewes Planning when it saw the dig decided that due to its size
and depth it is required. And one small aspect of this planning application -
LW/16/069 - is to seek this permission retrospectively.
proposed caviar farm is mostly on the slope of an L-shaped site of 2
fields which are on a slope and hill overlooking and partly running alongside
Chiltington Lane. (The
buildings shown are resident properties which have no connection to the
proposed caviar business.)
|This below is broadly what the caviar site
looks like in early 2016. The new blobs near the middle of the picture are
the test digs which were excavated in 2014 and for which planning permission
is now being sought retrospectively.|
|after - if planning permission is granted this artist's impression
below (interpreting plans lodged with Lewes District Council as part of this
application) show the envisaged extent of excavations in these plans. Nearly
all the site will be affected because the earth which has to be dug out to
excavate the ponds (lakes) is being retained on site. This means the caviar
farm surface will become higher than its geologically established
contours. (Ordnance survey will have to change their maps.)|
Due to the shock you might want to pause at
this point and scroll back up to see if you remember rightly what you saw before
|let's have a look at the basic idea|
you wanted to build a fish farm where would you put it?
On a level
space, close to a river, with good transport links and away from homes -
possibly on the site of an existing or former fish farm?
Caviar Limited (the
London Fine Foods
Group) is not doing that.
It has submitted a
application to Lewes District Council proposing to put a sturgeon farm,
caviar production and packaging facility and a mobile home on a hill, in the
middle of a hamlet just outside the South
Downs National Park, accessed by a
narrow country lane, and to fill 5 large ponds from a winterbourne (dry in
summer) at the bottom of the slope with top up from rain and mains water.
surveyor estimates based on the submitted plans suggest that building the caviar
farm will give rise to approximately 4,200 cubic metres of spoil to
be moved to re-shape the site and dig the ponds - that's equivalent to about
over 7,200 metric tonnes. To picture that - it's over 700x 10 ton
lorry loads. And all that in the middle of a tiny hamlet in one of the
quietest parishes in the county.
That gives you some idea why we say
this is the wrong thing in the wrong place.
Not only doesn't it
make sense it will damage a beautiful piece of countryside and disrupt the
community that has developed within it.
The Local Plan (Chapter 19)
states that 'East Chiltington is one of the most thinly populated parishes in
the District. Its "poor" road access by narrow lanes helps to maintain
its quiet and remote character. The key issue will be to retain this relative
isolation in the future.'
The site for the proposed caviar farm is on
Chiltington Lane, a narrow remote
lane in this quiet parish with a strong sense of community.
|Plan Details on Lewes
District Council website|
For full details of the application go to
Lewes District Council's Planning website for application number LW/16/0695.
The details can be downloaded from the documents tab.
To start you off you can download the
document here and a
summary of the
key drawings here (pdf).
4 things you can do (and did do - thanks)1 - Make a comment on
the application no later than September 16th 2016 and get your family and
friends to do so too. The more comments the better. Everyone has a right to
their say. You can make your views known to Lewes District Council by single
one of these methods - or any combination of them:
a. Go to the
comments tab on the planning application and filling in the online
comments form. It's simple and shouldn't take very long - unless you
want to write a lot! Just go to http://www.lewes.gov.uk/planning/1139.asp then
search for application number LW/16/0695 and click on the comments tab
b. Email the planning officer dealing with this application -
- referencing application number LW/16/0695
c. Write to the planning officer dealing with this
application: Andrew Hill, Planning Services, Lewes District Council,
Southover House, Southover Road, Lewes BN7 1AB
2 - Thanks for coming along to our meeting - we had a
September 4th. Thanks to all who attended, and the many others we have been
speaking to in the run up to this meeting whom we saw earlier in the day and
who had other commitments. Considering there are only about 25 houses in the
lane we had a great turnout.
...read more here
- Put up a poster. You can
a pdf poster here. If you would like an A3 weatherproof poster please
contact Janet Downes (01273 891050;
to arrange collection.
4 - Ideas to help us get support? -
Please tell your friends and neigbours about this plan and this web site. Are
you on our residents email list for updates? If not then
to be added. (Please say where you live.)
that's nearly all for now
sorry to have brought you such bad news. And if like us - you're very annoyed
and concerned about this - and the timing (coming as it does when we'd all
rather be out in the garden or the beach instead of studying planning documents)
please take heart from the fact that the first iteration of this plan back in
April was also a huge shock. But the number of objections and the strength of
our concern sent that earlier version of the plan back into rethink.
we've learned some things since then.
This version of the plan has more
detail. And it will take more effort on our part collectively to get it
reduced or modified or sent away packing for good.
But if we want this
area where we live to stay protected for the next generations to come - we've
got to do our bit.
|in the news|
inexactly is Chiltington Lane?
East Chiltington Parish
Council says No to Caviar Farm
LW/16/0695 - a rhyme of the Romans winterbourne
gets East Sussex Highways to remove local protest signs
Residents Meet to
Protest Caviar Farm Plan in Chiltington Lane, near Lewes
August Bank Holiday and the sweet
thwack of mallets tap tapping in the new "say no to caviar farm"
posters resounds down Chiltington Lane (soon followed by Highbridge,
Beechwood, Novington, Wickham, Hollycroft and other lanes around East
Monday, August 22, 2016 - 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.
earlier application in April by the same develepor had been withdrawn after
Lewes council received over 40 local
(and no supporting comments) from the 25 to 30 houses in the 1 mile road
That earlier plan (LW/16/0180) was based on an
entirely different business model of caviar processing and monetization and
contained amusing inconsistencies such as stating the site had no trees.
It also included scary design features such as 5 metre high
earth bunds to hold back back artificial lakes which stood on high ground
looming over neighbouring properties. Those bunds had been described
by one resident as "damn-buster style giant mud pies".
August 25, 2016 - residents created artwork for simple roadside posters and
a single page web site - wrongthingwrongplace.com which would be an easy to
remember address for anyone passing through the lane who saw the posters
and wanted to know what the fuss was all about.
Friday, August 26,
2016 - in the afternoon we had the first posters ready and launched the
draft web site. Within a few hours of having the
you could hear the sound of neighbours tap tapping the posts in the ground to
show their support all along the lane.
Sunday, August 28, 2016
- by Sunday afternoon (the bank holiday) the signs stretched for more than a
mile from one end of the lane to the other. We had immediate requests for
more signs but we ran out. So we told you you'd have to make your own from
Wednesday, August 31, 2016 - a neighbour came
over to ask if we had even more signs. She'd been away on holiday at the
weekend and first heard about the new plans for the caviar farm from a post seen
on facebook. This was posted by a friend who doesn't live in the lane but
saw the signs when driving through and facebooked it after reading the
wrongthingwrongplace web site.
Thursday, September 1, 2016 - it
was clear the signs were being noticed when an East Sussex Highways van
arrived in the lane and began pulling up and carting away protest signs
because of an urgent complaint the day before by the caviar company which
didn't like the message.
removes protest posters|
from residents' own verges
at request of
That's democracy in action. Local residents'
voices silenced at their own taxpaying expense. ...read
the full story
Sunday, September 4, 2016 - Residents
of East Chiltington, St. Johns Without and Cooksbridge met to discuss their
concerns about the application to build a caviar farm in Chiltington Lane. ...see related press
Later the national media picked up the story.
(More about that later.)
As we said at the time - the important
thing is not media coverage - but getting people to think about what this kind
of plan (if it goes ahead) will signify for anyone living in the countryside -
not just here.
This part of the lane was until recently designated an
area of outstanding natural beuaty (aonb). When the line of the new South Downs
national park was arbitrarily drawn for convenience on the other side of the
lane along the railway line - the old aonb status apparently disappeared.
Despite that there are sufficient planning and environmental
considerations which residents believe are strong enough to protect this site
from such massive excavations and aquatic engineering.
that the scale of local objections to this plan should be enough.
"The claim that the proposed
(caviar farm) enterprise is based on the proven model of the applicant's
current farm in Devon is (for the reasons listed below) inaccurate..."
resident in the lane ...read comments
"The location of a development
of this scale and character on a site next door to my home will have a negative
impact on my family, the local landscape and the character of our small rural
community. It will adversely affect the local environment including the Romans
Winterbourne, part of the Ouse River system, and introduce additional risks to
transport safety for users of Chiltington Lane. This development is contrary to
Core Policy 10 of the recently adopted Lewes District Council Core Strategy
Local Plan and Lewes District Local Plan 2003 policies CT1 and H2 (still
applicable). I also have concerns about the economic viability of the scheme and
the justification for a dwelling."
a resident in the
"Water plays an important part in
assessing this plan...
How will the sturgeon farms be filled and kept
Various statements have been seen by the developer... one
of which was using water from the mains drinking water. I'd like to draw to
your attention that placing a new stress on drinking water sources by new
developments such as this (which aren't critical for housing or conventional
food security) runs directly counter to the government's emerging policy aims
about water resources in relation to setting the planning agenda for climate
a resident in the lane
"The Lewes Core Strategy Policy -
2.15 Key sustainability issues statement makes much of the importance of
sustainability in the development of land and water and the preservation of the
environment. This application fails this policy totally.
Its effect on
changes to the water table will directly affect the foundations of listed and
other 17C buildings close to the site. In addition it fails to preserve the
environment totally by destroying two fallow (not derelict) meadows containing
flora and fauna common to this area of East Chiltington."
resident in the lane ...read comments
"This application involves an abuse
of a piece of land with many natural qualities, in which only one non-resident
individual benefits, in the form of personal profit. Should the business
fail...he costs of reinstating the land, if indeed it is possible, would be
borne by local tax payers."
a resident in the lane
"The application includes
permission for a substantial property on the site... With modern technology
surely this site could be remotely monitored. There are properties available to
purchase or rent locally, indeed one is available at present, within walking
Since the harvesting of caviar takes place over just a few
months of the year there is likely to be little requirement for a worker to be
on site 24 hours per day, every day."
a resident in the
images here are copyright 2016 by their respective owners for use in connection
to support the above campaign.
"The applicant has failed to
clearly demonstrate that it is essential for the proper running of the
enterprise for a worker to live on the site and be readily available at most
times, or that the enterprise would be viable and sustainable in the short to
medium term and as such the proposal conflicts with the requirements of
paragraph 55 of the National Planning Policy Framework and retained policy CT1
of the Lewes District Local Plan. ...and 2 other good reasons besides..."
Notice of Refusal -
LW/16/0695 (November 25, 2016)
MP Maria Caulfield supports residents
September 2016 a spokesperson on behalf of Maria Caulfield (MP for Lewes)
contacted Janet Downes (local resident ) and stated...
wish to confirm that Maria did meet with Ken Benning (the developer) and clearly
stated that she would be supporting the residents and not supporting the
caviar farm. I appreciate that certain media did report this differently through
information given to them not by Maria's office. We also contacted all media
which had reported this to refute the comments.'
...Later:- in a
(November 2016) about the proposed caviar farm in East Chiltington Maria
"Given the overwhelming objection from residents
and given the very technical nature of this application and concerns over
environmental damage and water pollution, I have written to the Secretary of
State, requesting that he moves to call in the application."
"There have been reports that OART
supports this application. Those reports are inaccurate."
Ouse & Adur Rivers Trust
"No evidence is provided that the
applicants have the necessary scientific background to manage the proposed farm
safely or that they have access to the necessary expertise, which may well not
exist currently in the UK."
CPRE Sussex ...read CPRE's
"As a runner with the
Brighton hash house harriers
I represent a group of people that uses and appreciates the beauty of the Sussex
countryside and its lanes and we wouldn't like to see it spoilt by such a scheme
that would also make the roads more dangerous."
of Lewes ...read
In a hole in the ground lived a sturgeon
it's a bit more complicated than that.
You can see some of the
complications of no-kill caviar farming in these newspaper stories from
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.
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.
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.
"It is a monstrous over development
of a narrow field site, dominating and over shadowing the centre of this hamlet."
resident in the lane ...read comments
"Neither field is flat, and one
slopes very steeply towards the Roman Winterbourne... the topography of the
land in itself renders the site highly inappropriate for the creation of a lake
and seven huge ponds."
a resident in the lane ...read comments
||to something like this|
on the left to learn more
|"The site is located in a rural area of
great and tranquil beauty on the borders of the South Down National Park. East
Chiltington and St. John Without Parishes, both of Saxon origin have preserved
their distinctive traditional rural character which is a source of great pride
to the local community. Therefore, this industrial sized development is
completely out of character."|
a resident in the lane ...read comments
the fact that an NFU support poster was affixed to the gate of the proposed
caviar farm site in Chiltington Lane during the planning consultation process
the NFU confirmed that they do not support this application."
rejection of caviar farm plans from local residents in East Chiltington
|how much terraforming?|
best estimates based on analysing the inadequate set of documents filed at
Lewes Planning are that building the caviar farm will require approximately
4,200 cubic metres of earth to be moved to re-shape the slope and dig
the ponds - that's equivalent over 7,200 metric tonnes.
a lot of digging.
No need to worry.
The application says this
will increase biodiversity.
"Great Crested Newts (and other
Amphibians). The developer's report claims the closest one located in 2005 at a
distance of 2km. There is in fact a breeding pond within 200m of the site!
...GC Newts have been found on numerous occasions at Burrells (a property
adjacent to the caviar farm site)."
a resident in the
|why say no? (the boring planning stuff)|
who lives here wants it.
spoken to everyone in this 1 mile lane and many in the lanes beyond and
everyone has their own unique set of reasons for preventing this property
speculation by a London based luxury food emporium which - if it went ahead -
would set an alarming precedent for making any rural land in a conservation
area anywhere in the UK ripe vulnerable to redesignation.
of local objection to the plan should be a good enough reason. But we can't
rely it. We need to state planning reasons too.
Among other things...
This development is alien to and out of character with its
It's in contradiction to Core Policy 10 of the
recently adopted Lewes District Council Core Strategy Local Plan and the Lewes
District Local Plan 2003 core policies CT1 which deals with where development
is applicable and H2 which deals with historic buildings and their settings.
Both of those are still applicable under the current policy regime.
analysis and arguments for concluding this plan is a silly idea could fill a
book. Maybe someone will write a book and call it the Chiltington Caviar
story. Not sure yet of the correct genre yet. Business? Fantasy? History? ...
Depends on how it all works out.
PS - there were over 110
objections to this application. ...read
more about this here
|news:- Thursday, September 8,
2016 - In what was described by the Chair of the Council , Buzz Harrison as -
the best attended East Chiltington parish council meeting she could recall -
East Chiltington Parish Council this evening spent nearly 2 hours discussing an
application for a caviar farm in Chiltington Lane.
posters - for you to put up and
advertise what's going on
We're developing a range of
posters and other materials to support wider awareness of the plan and the
issues involved for residents and the local environment. You can download the
above design to print for yourself now ...click
here for pdf.
And we're also producing weatherproof posters for
you to place outside. (See notes at the end of the centre column for how to
Most of us won't have time to read all the documents.
as we know from the earlier version of this plan which was presented in April
this year (and withdrawn after the weight of local objections) all of you care
about different aspects of the impact of such plans.
PS - it was great
for our morale when we walked up Highbridge Lane and saw the very first home
made A4 poster placed out in the house next to the forge.
"All the residents of Chiltington Lane, and many more local people
nearby, are concerned about this application"
Some of the local people who are opposed to
the Caviar Farm development seen here at a meeting on Sunday September 4th.
Note added later - we were standing in the garden of Chiltington
House. And about 3 yards behind us is one of the spawning grounds of the sea
trout which are born here in the dried up ponds of the Romans Winterbourne. The
sea trout return as big fish from their time out at sea at the end of
December when the stream here is a raging torrent.
To give you
the context - there are about 25 to 30 houses along a one mile stretch of
Chiltington Lane. Everyone in the lane (and everyone we've spoken to who lives
in the feeder lanes beyond objects to the idea.
The time for formal
objections closes soon.
Save our sea trout - what's that
One of the many concerns about the environmental impact of the
caviar plan was the predicted impact on sea trout which have been seen in the
winterbourne at the very location where any run off from the site would flow
during building or operation. (The stream banks had already been scraped when
the unpermitted test ponds were excavated for the developer in 2014.) The gravel
beds are spawning grounds of these native trout.
For that reason many
of the posters in Chiltington Lane had two different images (one on each side).
The sea trout image above - and the eating our landscape metaphor on the other.
For the web site wrongthingwrongplace.com we decided to lead with the landscape
image because that encompassed many other ideas too.
There were many
serious water issues - not just trout and water quality.
find detailed discussions in some of the resident letters.
trout picture is nice too and I've included it here on the web site for those
who didn't see it in real life.
"I have myself found one, possibly
two, Sea Trout redds (gravel nests) in early 2016 on the Romans Winterbourne,
just south of the Application site and the railway line, and several local
residents report very large Sea Trout spawning next to, south, and north of the
The Applicant's list of necessary biosecurity
measures... remind us of the intrinsic risks in such intensive fish farming
a Brighton resident who often visits the lane
"This proposal would appear to be
seeking to gain a change of use for the land by stealth.
difficult to see how the fish farm can be deemed agricultural use as opposed to
an industrial or commercial use given the anticipated machinery, transport
movements and customers on site. The requirement for (such a large) house to
support the fish farm seems both disproportionate and unnecessary."
resident in the lane ...read comments
"I have been a regular visitor to
Chiltington Lane for many years, visiting friends who live very close to the
proposed site. I am familiar with both the access and, more generally, the rural
and remote nature of the immediate vicinity.
Large volumes of water
would be contained in the ponds if these were to be constructed. The site is not
Therefore banks will have to be built to try to ensure that the
containment is safe. However this increases the risk of flooding, in the event
there are any problems at any point with the construction or afterward, which
would pose a real risk to those properties in the immediate vicinity of the
a resident of Lewes ...read comments