Our co-operative has purchased the 18.5 acre field to the south of Copyhold Cottages in the village of Arlington in East Sussex with a view to creating three agricultural-residential smallholdings for new entrants to small-scale ecological food production. We are currently preparing our planning application for the site in Arlington.
I have worked for over five years with the Ecological Land Cooperative, supporting their initial project and collaborating with them on various working groups, initiatives and events to encourage low impact, agro-ecological farming, opportunities for new entrants to farming and access to land and rural housing issues. They are an innovative and proactive organisation that is pioneering new ways of addressing some of the most challenging issues facing the development of better food and farming in the UK.
Rachel Harries, Soil Association
We are looking to create three affordable agricultural- residential smallholdings that would share a single timber-framed barn with roof-mounted solar panels for electricity.
Initially we would be seeking a temporary permission of five years. If temporary planning permission is secured, we would seek applications from potential smallholders to lease the smallholdings and start their rural businesses and livelihoods. The businesses would be chosen to provide a diversity of fresh food and products for the local area.
The whole site would be managed according to a management plan, which would be made binding on us by way of a planning condition and Section 106 Agreement, and made binding on the smallholders by way of their lease. We would report annually to the District Council on the extent to which we adhere to the management plan. This is a tried and tested method, which we’re using at our site in Mid Devon. The management plan for our site in Devon, along with our annual monitoring reports, can be viewed here
In the initial temporary period (five years), smallholders would live in temporary accommodation such as caravans or wooden chalets while the farms prove their long term viability. If the businesses prove to be viable after the temporary period has elapsed, our intention is to apply for permission for permanent agricultural smallholdings.
If you would like to find out more about our plans or ask any questions please email communications[at]ecologicalland.coop
When we have submitted our planning application we will link to the full application on this page.
Read our FAQ document here
Read our business plan here.
Read our research paper on the financial viability of small farms here.
On 26th September 2016 we held our first community meeting in the village hall of Arlington. We presented our plans to 50 interested and many very supportive locals and answered questions about our work.
You can see the invite to the first event here.
There were various concerns that were brought up, many summarised in
this letter by local farmer John McCutchan. We have addressed these concerns and others in our response letter which you can read the full version of here. For a shortened version please click here.
Second Community Meeting
Our second community meeting took place on Monday 21st November at Arlington Village Hall.
We presented some key changes to our plans since the first meeting:
- Additional planted screening of the development area
- Restriction of seasonal worker dwellings
- Repositioning the development area closer to the road to reduce visual impact - from Copyhold Cottages
- Extended tree planting along the northern field boundary
The main points discussed in detail during the second meeting were:
- The financial viability of the smallholdings
- Visual impact, particularly that of caravans used as temporary dwellings
- ELC’s plans at the end of the five year temporary permission
- ELC's legal structure and what protections this offers in various scenarios
It was also acknowledged that The Arlington Parish Council have presented the ELC with a list of suggested further planning restrictions which arrived with us on Friday 18th November and will be considered by the ELC's board along with the above discussion points. When the ELC board has considered all of these we will update this page with a detailed response and update.
The ELC has also met with a senior planning officer from Wealden Council, Matthew Taylor, for pre-application advice. We presented the project to Mr Taylor at the Council's offices in Halisham for an hour, and received his views in a letter a few weeks later. Unfortunately Mr Taylor's advice was that he "would not invite an application". This he explained was partly because our proposal is "unusual and complex" and partly because he hadn't seen evidence that Greenham Reach smallholders were viable and therefore that it may be too early for Greenham to provide "a useful benchmark for schemes elsewhere". Since receiving his letter, we've asked Mr Taylor for an opportunity to provide this evidence and we are waiting his response.
If you feel you have further questions which you would like answering then please do get in contact directly. We really value the local community's contributions as part of our site development process. You can contact us by emailing at email@example.com or calling 01273 911 494.
Letters of Support
We have garnered the support of various organisations - both national and local. With our planning application we will be submitting the below letters of support from these organisations.
The Soil Association
Tenant Farmers Association
The Plunkett Foundation
Action in Rural Sussex / Sussex Community Land Trust
Small Farm Training Group
Sustainable Food Trust
Centre for Agroecology, Water and Resilience, Coventry University
Organic Research Centre
Centre for Food Policy