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Opposition responds to ‘controversial’ Leckhampstead agricultural barns development





A farmer has proposed 40 alternative sites for a seed processing factory in Leckhampstead.

CYO Seeds applied to West Berkshire Council in December for permission to replace redundant farm buildings with new agricultural barns on land opposite Nightingale Farm, Wantage Road.

John Duffield standing outside the proposed development site, currently occupied by disused agricultural buildings. Credit: Adam Smith
John Duffield standing outside the proposed development site, currently occupied by disused agricultural buildings. Credit: Adam Smith

The application was due to be determined by Wednesday, March 20 – but a decision is still pending.

Meanwhile, John Duffield, who farms land to the north and east of the proposed site, has started a campaign against the proposal and has commissioned a report into sites he claims are more suitable than the one currently proposed.

Mr Duffield said he has been a business associate of CYO Seeds for years and told newburytoday his opposition is not personal.

But he is urging the council to refuse the proposal, which he fears will create a “dangerous precedent” for similar development in the surrounding National Landscape, previously an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB).

He said: “We’ve identified some 40 potential alternative sites for the CYO Seeds development that would satisfy the needs of this company while preserving the AONB.”

The alternative sites were highlighted in a report by CMS, an international law firm instructed by Mr Duffield and Marcham Farms.

He continued: “This development would have a detrimental impact on the unspoiled nature of this part of West Berkshire.

“The light pollution from the development is an additional concern, as are the dangers posed by the increased traffic movements this proposal would create, including slow moving lorries, to other drivers using the road.”

Environmental Health previously raised concerns about HGV movements taking place directly opposite a residential property at antisocial hours.

John Duffield stood on his land overlooking the proposed development site. Credit: Adam Smith
John Duffield stood on his land overlooking the proposed development site. Credit: Adam Smith

Highways said the proposal would increase traffic in a remote rural location, which has no nearby pedestrian or bus routes.

A spokesperson for Leckhampstead Parish Council previously said: “The applicant appears to have gone to some length to reduce the visual impact.

“However, the parish council is concerned by the potential light pollution from the large amount of lighting across the site.”

But not all parties are against the proposal.

John Gent said: “This business is vital to the local farming community.

“Without CYO, I would no longer be able to get seed cleaned and dressed locally.”

“We are farmers and believe the company putting in this application provide a hugely beneficial service to many farms and farmers both locally as well as further afield,” added Victoria Brown.

The proposal also includes seasonal worker accommodation, solar panels and external lighting.

The applicant was approached for comment.



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