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Frome’s Vallis Veg gains planning permission at appeal

VALLIS Veg, Frome’s local veg box scheme and market garden, has gained temporary planning permission for three years at appeal, for an agricultural dwelling in order for it to develop its business. 

Vallis Veg’s business partners, husband and wife team Chris Smaje and Cordelia Rowlatt said, “We’re delighted that our appeal has been allowed. It provides a new lease of life for our business and enables us to get on with what we really want to do, which is growing food sustainably for people in Frome and creating ways, along with our partner organisations, for people to visit our beautiful site for learning and enjoyment.

“Although we’ve continued trading throughout the planning process and are still selling veg boxes, our business has really been on hold until we got this result because we realised that it had no future without us being able to live onsite. We can now expand our operations and are aiming to re-establish the business during 2014.

“Market gardening is very labour intensive. Unlike a lot of other kinds of agriculture, it requires a constant human presence if it’s to work – especially when it’s done with the low impact, ecological methods that we use at Vallis Veg.

“We realise that not everyone welcomes residential development in the countryside, but our dwelling will have minimal visual, wildlife and traffic impacts – in fact, the impacts may even be positive. And the fact that we’ve got permission doesn’t mean that lots of residences are going to start popping up in the countryside around Frome – although current planning policy is now supporting rural business development more strongly, the planning system treats each case on its merits, and its requirements are quite exacting.

“We enjoy making our site available to the wider community in Frome, for example through our recent series of wildlife events and our volunteer days, and we aim to continue that in the future.

“We think a diverse site with woodland, grassland and cropland where people live and work and where local visitors are welcomed adds to rather than subtracts from the countryside. But the site does have to pay its way, and we have three years now in which to make the business thrive.

“We’ve had fantastic support so far from local customers, volunteers and other well-wishers, and we’d like to thank them for helping us realise our visions.”