wrong thing wrong pkace banner
East Chiltington Parish Council objection to LW/16/0695 (pdf)

"ECPC considers that the proposal is contrary to Core Policy 10 of the recently adopted Lewes District Council Local Plan Core Strategy 2016 and Lewes District Local Plan 2003 policy ST3 (design, form and setting of development)."
East Chiltington Parish Council says No to Caviar Farm

First published:- September 8, 2016.

Updated 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 - East Chiltington Parish Council this evening spent nearly 2 hours discussing an application for a caviar farm in Chiltington Lane.

The developer, a representative 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 wrongthingwrongplace.com web site following a tip from an interested reader in Brighton. Mr Adams said at the meeting he is working on an article about the Chiltington / Lewes caviar farm story for Friday's issue.

The Say No 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.

The developer, Kenneth Benning was invited to speak first and was allocated the longest timeslot.

He 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."

But 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

The parish council next heard fron Janet Downes who lives in Chiltington Lane next door to the proposed fish farm.

Janet 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.

Changes 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 previous condition.

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.

The application 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?

If 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 wrong place."

### editor's note ### more transcription of the meeting will be added later.

The deadline for objections was September 16, 2016. This has been relaxed.
Minutes of a meeting of East Chiltington Parish Council - 8th September 2016 - at 7.00 pm in Beechwood Hall, Cooksbridge

From a landscape point of view Cllr.Smith felt the application was not suitable and just because you own an asset and can do something doesn't mean you should.

Cllr.Fleming read out LDC core policy 10 and said the application fails to enhance the landscape and fails to meet that policy. ...read more
say no poster - landscape image

See also:- caviar farm developer gets fast response from East Sussex Highways to remove local protest signs