Iford Estate is a large mixed farm centred around the village of Iford. The farm buildings are spread throughout the village, meaning that tractors, trailers and lorries are frequently required to travel the narrow village roads to gain access. Most of the buildings are too small or designed for different purposes for todays requirements. More information about the Estate can be found on this website, and our Whole Estate Plan which sets out our long term vision and illustrates some of the environmental work we do can be found here.
A planning application in 2020 sought to consolidate the farmyard onto one site on the edge of the village and to provide a new access road to enable all the heavy traffic to avoid the village altogether. This application was refused at committee because it was considered that the buildings harmed the landscape and that insufficient information about the older buildings was provided. Additionally many residents of Lewes and the surrounding areas objected because they were concerned that the proposals would increase the traffic on the C7 road between Lewes and Newhaven. This was factually incorrect, the proposals did not involve any increase in traffic. It is important to note that we are not seeking to enlarge the farm, simply to focus operations on one central yard, improving efficiency and actually reducing traffic moving between the various existing yards.
The Current Proposals
In response to the refusal of the first application we consulted local residents and adjoining parish councils about revised proposals.
The consultation responses can be viewed here: Iford Estate Consolidation Consultation Response
Following the consultation exercise we have submitted three separate but linked applications, which have also been guided by the reasons for refusal outlined above. The three applications are as follows, and the detailed drawings and documents can be found on the SDNP website using the reference numbers listed below:
1. SDNP/20/05439/FUL | Consolidation of farming activities at Iford Farm through the erection of 2 No. Cattle Sheds, Straw Barn and Machinery Shed incorporating Fertiliser Store and Welfare Facilities and hardstanding; new farm access from C7 Piddinghoe Road, conversion of redundant building to commercial B8 use and regularisation of established commercial uses in adjacent buildings; and landscaping including woodland planting, surface water attenuation pond and wildlife planting to create biodiversity net gain | Iford Farm The Street Iford BN7 3EU
2. SDNP/20/05442/FUL Demolition of redundant modern straw barn at Sheepyard Barns, Conversion of redundant Sprayer Shed to B1(a) office use and demolition of redundant above ground slurry tank
3. SDNP/20/05441/FUL 1. Demolition of redundant straw barn, 2. Conversion of redundant cattle shed to stabling in connection with existing livery business 3. Extension to existing private stable building
If you wish to view the detailed documentation behind these applications you can search the Southdowns website using the reference numbers listed above, however in summary:
• The first application deals with the farm consolidation, and is significantly reduced in scale from the previous application, and has improved landscaping and tree planting. It still retains the new access road from the C7 and additionally seeks retrospective permission for some of the commercial buildings that don’t currently have planning consent and also one additional conversion.
• The second application deals with the buildings made redundant at Iford, and proposes to demolish the modern barn at the Sheepyard and to convert the sprayer shed into office accommodation. Additionally an old slurry tank at Rise Farm is proposed to be demolished.
• Finally, the third application deals with redundant buildings at Swanborough and proposes to demolish the large straw barn next to the footpath and convert the cattle yard behind this into an expanded livery unit.
• We are also offering to transfer the land required to construct the Egrets Way along the riverbank to the relevant bodies.
The proposals will provide the farm with a modern set of buildings which will allow us to farm effectively and efficiently, and will enable us to respond to the many challenges agriculture is facing at the moment. Once again it is important to note that there will be no additional HGV traffic on the C7, and a reduction in tractor movements between the existing sites. However as a result of the new livery yard there will be a small increase in car traffic of about 29 journeys per day. We do not feel that this will represent a significant increase in the level of traffic on the C7, and will typically be during off peak hours.
It is inevitable that agricultural buildings are visible in the landscape. By their nature they are required to be large, utilitarian buildings, and the growth in the size of farm machinery requires larger sheds. The buildings we currently use are built when tractors were not much bigger than an average SUV, they are now closer in size to an HGV! This proposal represents a reduction in the size and scale of the buildings from the previous application, and the tree planting around the site has been strengthened to help screen the buildings. We are proposing to use darker coloured roofs and to stain the timber cladding a darker colour to further help blend them in.
It is also true that in proposing to demolish some of the existing buildings we are improving the landscape. The buildings proposed for demolition are prominent in the landscape and in a poor state of repair, their removal will be an improvement.
The reduced scale of this application means that less buildings are redundant, and in demolishing some buildings and proposing to convert others to businesss use and a livery yard we have tried to provide clarity as to our intentions. However a number of more traditional buildings will remain or become redundant, which we intend to address in the medium term. Some of our thinking about this can be found in our Whole Estate Plan.
If this application is successful we intend to transfer the land required to complete the Egrets Way cycle path. This will be a permanent transfer and will facilitate the popular Lewes to Newhaven riverside path.
In reading this document I hope that the reader will be clearer about the nature of our revised plans. It is essential that the farm is allowed to modernise, and our impact on our neighbours in Iford and Swanborough which in recent years has become greater will be much reduced by removing the farm from the village.
In modernising we can create a business that is sustainable into the foreseeable future, and that can continue to provide the intangible benefits to the environment that we strive to supply. Our conservation work which is explained at length here on our website is largely funded from profit and it is our intention and sincere hope to be able to continue this work for generations to come.
If you have further questions we are always happy to talk, please send me an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Thank you for reading!