A Consultation and Information Update about polytunnels
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Are they an essential feature of modern agriculture, or are they just an eyesore? Or both?
Are they a problem in this area?
Linton Parish Council has discussed polytunnels on several occasions, and they would like to hear your views too.
The following article outlines the history and progress of these discussions, and lists some of the views and contributions they have received from Linton businesses and residents.
At the end of the article there is a link to our Message Centre to allow you to express your own views. The Parish Council is keen that you should do so, and all views are valuable. If you think it is important, or if you feel the Council should be taking action, please say so – but please also say if you think it is not an important issue – we need to hear from everyone, not just those with strong opinions, in order to get a balanced view. This article has taken quite a long time to prepare, and the amount of interest and feedback it generates will help us to decide if such exercises are worthwhile in future.
If you click on the links provided, they will all open in new windows. So you can go through and click on all the links, and then review each of them individually at leisure.
Please don’t forget to give us your views! Use the Message Centre, or contact any Parish Councillor, or write via the Parish Clerk (see link at right of each page of this website)
Background and History
Polytunnels were first raised as an issue by the Chairman, Cllr C Baxter, and were discussed at the PC meeting of 18 May 2009.
There was some further discussion at the meetings of 9 November 2009, 11 January 2010, and 9th April 2010 at the instigation of the Vice Chairman, Cllr J Whitmarsh. A document which provides extracts from the minutes of these four meetings, as well as for the May meeting below, can be viewed here.
At the November 2009 meeting, it was agreed that a letter should be sent to Maidstone Borough Council Planning Committee, and this was done on 14th November 2009. A copy of the letter can be viewed here. Only a brief email acknowledgement was received, after a chaser was sent, and it is clear that Maidstone BC have no policy or guidelines available in relation to polytunnels
A longer discussion took place at the meeting of 17 May – the minute of the discussion is included in the extracts document above. To help to facilitate that discussion, Cllr Whitmarsh wrote and distributed a document entitled “Concerning Polytunnels” which can be viewed here. It set out some principles and proposed four actions.
As you will see from the minute, in the event the only action agreed at the May meeting was to draft a letter for review at at the June meeting. Cllr Whitmarsh was unable to attend the June meeting, but he drafted a letter which can be viewed here.
Prior to the June meeting, letters were received from Messrs JL Baxter & Son, and from Alan Firmin Ltd. These letters can be viewed here.
The meeting of 21 June 2010 discussed the matter further, and reviewed the draft letter, but in the end it was decided that the letter should not be sent. An approved version of the minutes of this meeting will not be available until after the meeting of 19 July 2010, but an extract from the draft minutes can be viewed here. The approved version will replace it, when available.
Over To You
Now you are up to date – as at 12 July 2010 – with the way the issue has been raised and progressed by the Parish Council. Have the discussions been a waste of time, or a valuable debate? Should we be doing more important things, or are we not doing enough? Let us know your views. They will be welcome at any time, but note that any feedback received before 19th July will be advised to the Parish Council meeting to be held on that day.
As to the wider world beyond Linton, Google or similar search facilities will quickly supply views and information on both sides. Here for example is a recent article from the Downs Mail about an application (since granted) for 57 acres of polytunnels in West Farleigh, which has MBC Councillor Tony Harwood expressing the view that more applications will follow, and supporting the establishment of a defined policy on polytunnels.
This web page will be updated after the July 2010 meeting and whenever new information or input is available, so add it to your bookmarks!
Update 9 September 2010
There have been three developments since the above Consultation was published:
1. There was some discussion at the Parish Council meeting of 19 July 2010. The minutes are available here – see page 4.
2. A planning application for about 35 acres of polytunnels has been submitted by Clock House Farm, Coxheath. Maidstone Borough Council did not advise Linton Parish Council of the application, although a small part of the land concerned is within Linton Parish. A copy of the application has been requested and will be circulated to the Parish Council for comment (by those eligible) if time permits.
In the meantime, the planning application and supporting documents can be viewed and commented upon at the Maidstone Borough Council website, here. You have only until 13 September 2010 to comment directly, though it is likely the application will be considered by the MBC Planning Committee, when additional comment can be made at the meeting.
3. There was mention at the Linton Parish Council meeting on 6 September 2010 of a letter, received that day from a Linton resident, regarding polytunnels. Unfortunately it was marked “private and confidential” and so could not be shown to the other Parish Councillors present, or discussed at the meeting, or added to this website.
No other comment or feeback has been received, and no comments have been received by this website despite the request above. The inevitable conclusion is that rightly or wrongly, the subject of polytunnels is not seen by Linton residents generally as an important one.