VOTE: Was the district council right to refuse permission for a landshare scheme at West Ashling?

Plans including a new house, three shepherds’ huts for tourist lets, a storage barn and access tracks as part of a landshare scheme near Chichester described as a ‘huge local hit’ were thrown out by district councillors.

The northern area development control committee heard that landshare was an initiative which provided local people with free use of land in return for sharing food grown on it with the owner. It was devised by Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall on the Channel 4 River Cottage series.

Planning officers recommended refusal of planning permission for the new developments, on land at Newells Lane, West Ashling, on the grounds that they would directly conflict with government and local planning policies on development in the countryside. The committee voted 7-2 to back the recommendation.

Cllr Julie Tassell, who represents the local area, said the site had genuinely brought the community together by providing allotments and areas for pigs and chickens.

To ensure the new property remained a part of the landshare, landowners Mr and Mrs Richard Brooks were happy to have a condition providing an ‘agricultural tie’ between the landshare scheme and the house.

Cllr Tassell said the scheme had been a huge hit in the area, and the community spirit it had given was terrific. “There is a need for a house so they can oversee the site and the animals they are hoping to have in the future,” she added.

Planning officer David Few said the concept of landshare was an agricultural use and did not need planning permission. They were not looking at the principle of landshare as part of this application, but at whether there was justification for a new dwelling on the site.

Even if there was a functional and financial need for someone to live on the site to supervise agricultural use, this would have to be a caravan for the first three years, in order to see if the enterprise was successful.

“Here there is no business plan for the enterprise, which is not surprising because landshare is surplus land offered to the community to develop and offer foodstuffs back to the owner,” he said.