VOTE: Glasshouses opponent says battle is not over

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The man who started a campaign group against plans to build 20 hectares of glasshouses in Almodington was delighted after they were rejected by district councillors, but admitted – the fight isn’t over yet.

Dries de Vaal, founder of the Almodington Association, said he was pleased councillors at the southern development control committee voted against the £21m plans on March 31.

Objectors demonstrated outside the district council’s East Pallant House headquarters and then crowded inside to hear the debate.

They applauded after the committee voted 14-0, with one abstention, to refuse planning consent despite planning officers recommending approval.

Dries de Vaal said: “This is a great victory for all the people of the Manhood Peninsula and for our local residents and supporters in particular.

“This huge and inappropriately-placed project threatened the future character and environment of the Manhood.

“It would have damaged the area’s principal industry, tourism, which is a major generator of employment and prosperity.”

However he added: “So we have won this battle. Unfortunately, it is unlikely to be the end of the war.

“We anticipate the applicant will now seek to appeal this decision. This means that, in time, a planning inspector will hear the case.”

More than 300 residents and all parish councils on the Manhood Peninsula objected to Madestein UK’s plans to build glasshouses at Easton Farm.

The glasshouses would produce 500,000 lettuces a week, 52 weeks a year and would cover the same space as 45 international football pitches.

Refusal of the plans was proposed by Sidlesham representative Cllr Tricia Tull, seconded by Cllr Graeme Barrett, on grounds including the damaging impact on the landscape, the effect on the local economy and the tourist industry, and traffic and highway safety concerns.

But Cllr Tull declared: “Growing is what we do in this area, but not at any cost. I have rarely seen such objections in the 12 years I have been on this committee.”

Madestein was seeking to rationalise production of whole-head lettuce by removing this production from existing premises at Runcton and giving up rented areas of glass there.

Councillors were told 65 new full-time jobs would be created.