25 February 2000

Farmer and village join in Brookside proposal protests

By Nigel Burnham

FARMERS are fighting proposed developments which they believe will be "disastrous" for their communities and their livelihoods if given the go-ahead.

Villagers in Northumberland are battling proposals from the Duke of Northumberland to build 15 exclusive "executive homes" close to a local farm in Chatton, near Wooler. They claim that the "Brookside-type development" would ruin the approach to the village and adversely affect local farmer Jim Douglas.

Mr Douglas, who rents Mill Hill Farm from the Dukes Northumberland Estates company, is at the centre of the row because the houses will encroach on to his land. He will lose sheep pens and a silage pit if the scheme goes ahead. He said: "I think the houses would be too close to my farm. Im afraid that children from the estate may well wander onto my land and could get injured."

Houses would be filled with commuters who would not like the smell of a working farm, said Mr Douglas. His view is shared by a spokesman for farm consultants ADAS who added: "Our main concern is how the future residents will cope with farming if the houses are built too close to the farm. Even if a farm follows all the government guidance on air pollution it still needs to be able to grow food without hindrance from residents."

But a spokesman for the Duke said the viability of Mr Douglass farm would not be affected by the proposal. However, Berwick councillors will visit the site before deciding on the application.

Meanwhile, East Yorkshire farmers want to stop a scheme for a holiday leisure complex comprising 72 caravans and cabins in the middle of intensive pig-farming country on the site of a former quarry at Brigham, near Driffield.

The farmers believe that the tourist development would lead to the urbanisation of an unspoilt rural area, put farm jobs at risk and result in them being "swamped" by the holidaymakers. The application was expected to be determined by East Riding of Yorkshire Council in Beverley on Thursday (Feb 24).

Farmers wife Joan Foreman, who chairs the local parish council, said: "Land on all sides of the site is used for the spreading of pig slurry, which we feel will lead to complaints by the visitors about smells."

Elsewhere in Yorkshire, farmer Brian Lazenby, 60, who has rented Hill Park Farm, Thackley, near Bradford, since 1954, says he is facing ruin because his landlord, Bradford Council, wants to create sports pitches for a new £9m school. He said: "The 10 acres theyre taking is my best land. I dont see how I can make a living here after this."

Farmers claim a local development will look like TVs Brookside.