PLANS by a plant nursery to relocate from land in Pennington earmarked for up to 100 homes have been attacked as a “slippery slope” towards further development.
Adam Gore and Rebecca Savin want to move Northfield Nursery, in Lower Pennington Lane, to a nearby field they own just within the boundary of the New Forest National Park.
The scheme has come under fire from neighbours who have campaigned to protect the quiet character of the rural roads, where Oakhaven Hospice is also located.
As reported by the A&T, New Forest District Council last year allocated land there for development in its Local Plan policies, including the site of Northfield Nursery.
The nursery’s proposed relocation as a result has sparked 17 objections to the New Forest National Park Authority from neighbours, with one saying: “I am very concerned that we are heading down the ‘slippery slope’ of one application after another.”
Another said: “This seems madness to me. If the nursery is such an important agricultural site that it needs to remain in Lower Pennington Lane, then why has its existing location voluntarily been put into the local housing plan?”
Others questioned whether it was the precursor to more housing through “infilling” undeveloped gaps.
The application to the NPA seeks to relocate two polytunnels, a greenhouse, storage shed and water tank, and install new pathways and a rainwater harvesting pond.
The new site would be comparable on a production scale to the current operation which comprises about 3,000 square metres of glasshouses and polytunnels along with associated sheds, it said.
It added: “The proposed location of the buildings has been specifically designed to be situated in the least sensitive location along the established hedgerow/screening alongside the east boundary of the field.
“We would be prepared to consider further landscape planting with indigenous trees and shrubs to further merge the proposed development into its setting should the [NPA] consider this to be necessary.”
Mr Gore and Ms Savin said they are “established horticulturalists” who employ two people plus four more seasonally. They investigated alternative sites, they said, but “nothing suitable” was found.
The business engages in “intensive production” of bedding plants, and supplies hanging baskets to the gardening industry, shipping around 18,000 in 2019/20.
The NPA will decide the application at a later date.