Kent fruit grower Salmans Farm is celebrating a decision to approve permanent polytunnels that it said will secure the future of the business.
Farmed by the Pascall family as part of the Clock House Farms soft-fruit business, Salmans Farm, in Penshurst, had previously had temporary permission for the tunnels, before having to apply for a permanent licence.
The application had faced local opposition, before today’s decision by Sevenoaks Council Planning Committee.
Farm manager Oli Pascall said: “We are delighted with this decision which enables us to continue soft-fruit growing here at Salmans Farm. I am also very pleased for our full-time staff and seasonal workers, whose jobs are now secure thanks to this decision.
“Planning is a huge issue for many farmers and the public needs to understand that farmers need to be more commercially minded to compete with cheaper imported fruit. They also have to comply with the requirements of their customers, which with soft fruit is for it to be grown in polytunnels. The rural landscape is not static and it along with farming practice changes overtime.”
“We were not looking to make any changes to the type of polytunnel used or to increase their use beyond the current areas,” he added.
Director at consultancy firm Bloomfields Tom Ogden said: “This is very good news for the soft-fruit growing industry and the national drive to reduce the dependence on imported fruit.
“Although not a planning consideration, it is hearting to know that this decision has given confidence to a young farmer to continue in the family business.”