Farmers told there's no justification to build a bungalow for key worker - council says there's no reason why the employee shouldn't live nearby in Ely
PUBLISHED: 15:48 07 February 2020 | UPDATED: 16:03 07 February 2020
Permission to build a two-bedroom bungalow for a key worker has been denied an Ely farmer after East Cambs Council ruled it was "not essential to his business".
John and Nick Lee of Hurst Farm, West Fen Road, explained that the "modest family accommodation" was needed to house a full -time worker to supervise the livestock enterprises.
With expansion and the opening of a beef fattening unit - and particularly to deal with night- time births now the number of breeding cows has exceeded 150 - the father and son farmers want extra help living nearby.
They also told planners that security was an issue and the farm had suffered "from theft and vandalism and several major arson incidents have occurred on neighbouring farms".
In a statement to the council they argued that it was "becoming impossible to farm the holding without having constant livestock supervision on site".
But planning manager Rebecca Saunt told them the need for a new agricultural worker's home "has not been adequately justified".
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She also said the proposed property "does not relate well" to the existing properties on the farm. And the large garden they proposed - with a curtilage of 1,000 sqm -would be an encroachment into the countryside.
A planning officer who summarised the recommendation to refuse permission, said the farm was close enough to Ely for workers to live there and be called to the site if necessary.
Dismissing the suggestion that it would be difficult to recruit without offering housing, the planning officer said it was not an issue for them.
"Recruitment issues are not a material planning consideration and would not give weight to the case to grant an agricultural worker's dwelling," he said.
Security could be dealt with, he said, and there were already two houses on site. He concluded it was not essential for a third worker to live on site. The proposed new property was "somewhat removed" from the main farm complex and not "within sight and sound of the animals".
The family had argued that there were no buildings on the farm suitable for conversion.
"Therefore, the only realistic alternative is a new build construction," they told the council.
However, Ms Saunt told them it ought to be possible for a key worker to live close to the site "and be able to attend in an emergency situation".