Poultry planning success after two-year battle

A Welsh farming family is celebrating after winning a lengthy planning battle with Powys County Council over two 40,000-bird broiler units.

Simon and Pip Rogers of Upper Heath Farm, Presteigne, Powys, currently run 250 sheep, 90 beef sucklers and some arable crops on more than 200ha and were keen to move into broiler production to expand the family business.

The application for the two broiler sheds, housing a total of 80,000 birds, and associated control room, four feed bins, access and hard-standing area, was submitted in July 2013 to Powys County Council.

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Although the planning officer recommended approval, the application was refused in December by the planning committee because of landscape effects, and negative implications for the local tourism industry and a nearby listed building.

Following the refusal, the family lodged an appeal and the planning inspectorate said a public inquiry should take place. Powys County Council took the view that it could not win the case and declined to contest the appeal.

As a result, the farmers decided to resubmit the application, rather than undergo a costly public inquiry, and were given the green light by the planning committee last October.

However, a group of objectors launched a judicial review of the planning permission and were successful, resulting in the approval being quashed by the Administrative Court on a technicality.

This forced the family to take the original appeal out of abeyance and proceed with the public inquiry, which the inspector this week upheld, awarding full costs to the applicants.

Planning consultant Ian Pick said he believed the decision by the planning committee to refuse approval in 2013 had been due to a large number of written objections: “There was at the time quite a campaign generated locally with up to 260 objectors writing.

“I think the problem at the moment when it comes to obtaining planning permission is that it is pretty much a postcode lottery,” he said.

Simon Rogers agreed that getting planning permission had been a lottery, adding that it seemed to be too easy for opponents to stop an application in its tracks.

Mr Rogers told Poultry World: “It has been very frustrating to see how easy it has been for people to stall you over such a long time, and time of course equals money for the business.”