12 September 1997

Council No for lambing barn will stymie rural development claim

SHEEP farmers Geoff and Dora Pilkington claim their local authority has stifled development of the rural economy and neglected animal welfare issues by rejecting their application for a lambing barn.

The couple, who run 50 ewes at their farm at Lingfield, East Grinstead, Surrey wanted to develop a sheep enterprise and claimed a permanent shed was needed to prevent lambs being attacked by foxes.

"We wanted to increase our sheep business to 70-80 ewes, but were warned by other farmers that we should lamb indoors. A neighbouring farm where pheasants are bred has become a haven for foxes," said Mr Pilkington. Until now, the couple have used a small temporary building which, they claim, is now unsuitable.

The local authority, Tandridge District Council, contracted Bruton Knowles for a feasibility study, which found insufficient agricultural merit for the shed. The application was later rejected. Caroline Gilbert, Tandridge council planning officer, said the proposal would add to existing scattered redevelopment and be detrimental to the areas rural character. It conflicted with the county councils structure plan preserving the metropolitan green belt area.

Mr Pilkington said he found the councils decision confusing. The site had been used for different agricultural purposes for many years.n

Dora and Geoff Pilkington: Councils refusal will stymie their plans.