|East Chiltington Parish
Council says No to Caviar Farm|
First published:- September 8, 2016.
with links to later documents - September 27, 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 -
Chiltington Parish Council this evening spent nearly 2 hours discussing an
application for a caviar farm in Chiltington Lane.
of a company which will bid build the ponds and residents spoke publicly with
time slots rationed to a strict timetable.
Also present were members
of the press, including
Joel Adams from
the Brighton newspaper of record - the Evening
Argus - who began approaching residents yesterday after having seen the
site following a tip from an interested reader in Brighton. Mr Adams said
at the meeting he is working on an
about the Chiltington / Lewes caviar farm story for Friday's issue.
to Caviar Farm leaflets were very visible with all residents holding copies
during the meeting.
After nearly two hours which left attendees on the
edge of their seats - the council concluded they will write to Lewes District
Council - to reject the application.
Here's some of what was said.
Benning was invited to speak first and was allocated the longest timeslot.
spent most of his time talking about the history of his associated caviar
businesses in London and Exmoor and the prestigeous nature of his customers,
and the successes he has had getting his businesses featured in broadcast media
and the trade press.
Benning said he had long ago lived in the area
(in Chiltington Lane) but had moved to London when he started to develop his
caviar import business. His parents who lived in the area about 25 years ago
retained ownership of the undeveloped fields (which are the site of the
planned caviar farm) when they moved away in about 2006.
By the time
he had got through his memoirs and name dropping the chairman reminded him he
didn't have long left.
At this stage he also mentioned he would be
seeing the local MP Maria
Caulffield to discuss his plans the following day. At this point he went
over the time allowed time budget. He quickly went on to say "A correctly
managed offline water system would have absolutely no effect to the stream,
winterbourne, brook or on the fields."
Benning said he was
working with OART to ensure that no harm would come to the sea trout. He said he
had "spared no expense to ensure that all issues raised had been
addressed. And all these reports are found alongside the planning application."
it was disappointing that Mr Benning didn't say anything of substance or in
detail about this plan. (A resident commented afterwards that while he was good
at self publicity - if this had been Dragon's Den he would have been toasted
parish council next heard fron
Janet Downes who
lives in Chiltington Lane next door to the proposed fish farm.
said "I speak not just on behalf of myself, but also on behalf of a large
number of local residents and landowners who object to this scheme including
every household in Chiltington Lane. May I note that Mr Benning in his
introduction spent most of it talking about the background of his business and
very little of it addressing specifically the application relative to the
Chiltington caviar farm as proposed. I would like to point out that we are not
NIMBY's nor a bunch of local people who are anti-enterprise. Quite the contrary.
Most of us are involved in rural enterprise. Many of us are farmers. Many of us
are involved in business. And we support and live on a daily basis with rural
enterprise and agriculture.
We object on grounds of the negative
landscape and environmental impact this scheme promises in return for
negligible economic benefits to the local community.More specifically some of
our grounds for objection include these three areas.
First - the
impact on the landscape due to the nature and scale of the proposed development
and this particular site... It is to be located on a hillside, in the middle of
a quiet rural community on a narrow country lane popular with walkers, riders
and cyclists. It's close to the South Downs National Park, in the historic
setting of listed buildings and immediately adjacent to one. It requires
thousands of tonnes of earth to be moved to re-shape the hillside to construct a
reservoir, four ponds, farm buildings a trackway and a dwelling, leaving a
potentially permanent scar on the landscape.
This development is alien
to and out of character with its surroundings. It's in contradiction to Core
Policy 10 of the recently adopted Lewes District Council Core Strategy Local
Plan and the Lewes District Council 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.
The second ground for objection is the sustainability
of the scheme and particularly in the long term.
Any new venture is
risky. In this case the operational, marketing and financial risks of any new
venture are compounded by the very large construction costs due to thechoice
of site and due to the experimental nature of the fish and caviar
farm process which it uses.
I specialise in bringing new products and
ventures to market. They never go exactly to plan.
and accommodations have to be made in product specification, production systems
and facilities and/ or in market positioning - and many don't make it. They
fail. It's estimated that around 70% of new consumer packaged goods
fail, for instance.
We have no access to the feasibility study that Mr
Benning has provided apparently to the local district council so don't know how
tight the tolerances, financial and operational, are for this venture. But
unlike traditional agricultural enterprises, which were carried out on this site
historically, should this caviar venture fail or in the course of time (as is
natural) another owner or business succeeds this development, the landscape may
be left permanently scarred due to the high costs of returning this site to its
No allowance for this has been made as far as I
can see in any of the plans or supporting documentation. All of this is going to
happen in return for very little economic benefit to the surrounding
area. The prinicipal grounds on which diversification agriculture is justified.
One additional job at most which is likely to be taken up as we understand it
by a relative of the developer.
The third planning ground for our
objection is the incorporation of a dwelling.
doesn't really demonstrate why a dwelling is necessary. I've been in process
instrumentation businesses for nearly thirty years. Remote monitoring of
this type of site is possible and the LDC has made adequate provision in its
Core Policy for affordable homes elsewhere in the district. An application for a
dwelling alone would not be permitted. So why is it being included?
granted this scheme could create a precedent for agricultural development
being used as an excuse for gaining planning permission in areas outside
those earmarked for housing development in the LDC core strategy and the
relevant local plans.
In summary this scheme is an intensive,
alien piece of development in a sensitive, quiet rural area, close to dwellings
including listed buildings. It contravenes local planning policy. It would be
visible from surrounding land including the South Downs and could leave a
permanent scar on the landscape. It includes a dwelling without thorough
justification. I urge the council to object to it. It's the wrong thing in the
### editor's note ### more transcription of the
meeting will be added later.
The deadline for
was September 16, 2016. This has been relaxed.
farm developer gets fast response from East Sussex Highways to remove
local protest signs