Expansion plans for Hempstead Farm unveiled
11 Mar 2010Mr Sharpe has written to Kent Highways Services regarding an interim stage one expansion of Hempstead Farm which you can read for yourself below.
I act for G H Dean & Co, the owners of Hempstead Farm, Bapchild which for several years now has been the centre of their farming operations extending to nearly 5000 acres, involving a mixture of top fruit, grain and to a lesser extent, sheep.
In recent years, substantial investment has taken place at Hempstead Farm in the form of grain stores, grain driers and cold stores for fruit. In more recent planning permissions, Swale Borough Council has seen fit to impose conditions restricting the products stored only to those grown on the holding.
Currently, in order to add value to the fruit product, my client company is contemplating the construction of a fruit pack house which will involve investment in excess of £1 million. While such a facility would involve the packing of produce grown on the G H Dean holding, inevitably, in order to maximise productivity, it will be necessary to package also fruit grown by other local growers and therefore the issue of vehicular access and the potential impact on residents on Hempstead Lane will again arise.
Whilst the number of individual houses on Hempstead Lane is not great, visibility to the right on exit from Hempstead Lane onto the A2 is poor and therefore in all the circumstances, in planning the future layout of the building complex at Hempstead Farm, an alternative access to the A2 suggests itself.
Please find attached a sketch showing an alternative access to the farmyard complex from the A2 utilising the existing access to the Bapchild cricket ground. My client owns the cricket ground and all land to the east and land to the west including the nearest two dwellings. The intention would be to improve/relocate the existing access with improved visibility splays, in accordance with guidance, with a track through the existing orchards to the complex of farm buildings. Access to the cricket ground would then be taken off this access track rather than directly off the A2.
It would not be possible to close the existing farm access on Hempstead Lane because access is needed to agricultural land in that direction but the new access would be used by all visiting vehicles and also by agricultural vehicles from that part of the G H Dean and Co holding to the south of the A2.
Clearly these proposals would not involve the creation of a new access onto the A2 rather the intensification of use and improvement of an existing access and, subject to further investigation, it may be possible for G H Dean to offer to close an additional existing agricultural access elsewhere onto the A2.