26 January 2018
Jersey’s Planning Committee has approved a planning application (P/2017/1026) to build a farmhouse, office and sheds on Green Zone fields in Trinity.
The applicants run a livestock smallholding on a number of fields near La Rue Guerdain in Trinity. They live nearby and applied to use some of the land they farm to build a livestock shed with milking, processing and storage facilities, and a three-bedroom home and farm office.
In the planning proposal, the applicants say the new facilities, which would mean they could live on site, would enable them to grow the smallholding to 100 dairy goats, 200 laying hens, with 10 Angus Jersey cross beef animals, 50 lambs and 75 goat kids each year.
The Environment Department recommended refusal because the application doesn’t meet Jersey’s approved planning policy in a number of areas. For example, it would result in the loss of some high quality agricultural land, would harm the landscape character of the area, and agricultural buildings on Green Zone land are only allowed when they are essential.
The main planning concern centred on whether the applicants could demonstrate they were bona fide farmers with a successful business. Current policy asks people who want to build new farm developments to show they have an income of more than £40,000 a year.
Bona fide farmers
A planning report on the application states ‘There are good reasons for protecting the countryside from development associated with agriculture, as with other uses. There are many small holders in Jersey who might wish to establish a new dwelling in the countryside, but the policy bar has been set deliberately high – they must first prove their ‘bona fides’ before they can attract policy support’.
However, Planning Committee members noted the overwhelming support for the application from neighbours, the Jersey Farmers Union, Jersey Business and the parish representatives. Members considered that new entrants to agriculture should be encouraged, where they are able to demonstrate the right track record and a proper business approach. It was also considered that good animal welfare would be best served by having the house and the barn co-located, away from nearby residents.