Farm shop future in doubt

A £40,000 FARM shop and restaurant diversification will stand idle over the bank holiday weekend because the landlord‘s agent claims it breaches a tenancy agreement.

Tenants Glyn Stanley and his wife Heather opened the development at Pool Farm, St Brides Major in Glamorgan, in September 2002.

They claim they had planning consent from the Vale of Glamorgan Council and the verbal approval by the agent on behalf of the Dunraven Estate, which owns the 54.9ha (136-acre) farm.

Glyn Stanley insisted that, even though he did not have written confirmation, Julian Golunski of Cook and Arkwright, the landlord‘s agents, verbally sanctioned the development in July 2002.

“We were absolutely stunned six months ago when we were notified that we were in breach of our agreement and faced eviction unless we rectified the position, which meant closing down.”

“It took us the whole notice period to find out that the breach related to the right to access the site, which involves crossing land owned by the Duchy of Lancaster.”

Mr Stanley alleged that Mr Golunski has offered to allow the development to continue operating if the family exchanged their tenancy, held since 1945, for a 20 or 25-year farm business tenancy.

But Mr Stanley refused the offer and plans to fight to keep the development open.

“On the advice of our solicitors, we have closed down until the right of access issue can be sorted out. The agent for the Duchy has visited the farm and thinks it should not be a problem if our landlord‘s agents agree.”

His message to fellow FWi users was: “Can I urge all readers with tenancies to get written permission to make changes, or risk having the rug pulled out from under them.”

Mrs Stanley added: “In trying to counter the falling income from our 100 dairy cows we believe that we have diversified in exactly the way the Welsh assembly and others have urged us to do.”

The development comprises one shop selling home produced eggs and meat and another selling craft goods, including painted furniture made on the farm by Mrs Stanley.

Paddocks near the shops were full of pets, hand-reared lambs and miniature horses.

“It is designed for children, and entry is free,” said Mrs Stanley.

“We hope that adults who bring children will buy in the shops and have a snack in our 21-seat restaurant.”

The couple‘s plight is being backed by customers, and no fewer than five petitions have been organised in local villages to try to reopen the shop.

Mary Williams, a local community councillor, told FW that the farm was “a great example of rural regeneration”.

Lois and Doug Ward from nearby Ogmore by Sea say the closure is a shame for the children who arrive every weekend and for every consumer who enjoys “real home produced food”.

“I hope the readers of FARMERS WEEKLY can help us in our plight,” Ms Hamilton said.   

The landlord‘s agents, Cook and Arkwright, were given a chance to put their point of view, but said simply that they were never prepared to discuss issues concerning landlords and tenants with the press or other third parties.

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