In August 2018 we were granted temporary permission by Wealden District Council to create three affordable smallholdings for new entrant farmers on our site in East Sussex - a 18.5 acre field in the village of Arlington.
Arlington Application process update
In autumn 2018 we began the application process to find farmers for our 18.5 acre site in Arlington, East Sussex for which we have received temporary planning permission to create three new residential smallholdings.
We publicised the opportunity far and wide within the agro-ecology farming sector, More than 2000 people visited our website to check it out and 150 people downloaded our application pack. We were surprised when we received a small number of completed applications -- which has led us to reflect on the application process and our model, as well as conducting research which is helping to inform our next steps for finding the farmers that we know are out there looking for affordable land to start a land-based enterprise.
We believe 100% in our work and are fully committed to working with our future applicants to create these ecological small farms. However, we need to take a pause to re-assess the best way of working with new-entrant farmers to make this happen and learn from the process.
We are nearing the end of our original application process and it is clear that after this process is complete, there will still be at least some plots available in Arlington.
We will be launching a new application process soon, so watch this space. This will open a dialogue with people interested in any of our current or future sites and will help us understand each other and build relationships, rather than trying to pack everything into one short application window.
We are already in conversation with more potential applicants and we invite anybody interested in applying with us for our sites in Arlington, Gower or Sparkford or unknown future locations to get in touch with Oliver Bettany, our membership and engagement manager at firstname.lastname@example.org. We are also interested to hear from potential applicants that have a plot of land in mind and watch this space for the launch of our new open application process for the different ways we will be looking to engage with our future farmers.
If you'd like to review our planning application process with all supporting documents then all the information can be viewed from this page.
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