Judge blocks plan to house 1,000 strawberry pickers

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The Independent Online

The High Court blocked plans to house more than 1,000 migrant fruit-pickers in caravans at a tiny hamlet yesterday. Herefordshire council, which refused a planning application by Europe's largest strawberry grower, S&A Property Ltd, won a temporary injunction a week ago.

The High Court blocked plans to house more than 1,000 migrant fruit-pickers in caravans at a tiny hamlet yesterday. Herefordshire council, which refused a planning application by Europe's largest strawberry grower, S&A Property Ltd, won a temporary injunction a week ago.

It wanted to continue the order preventing further development pending a full hearing when it will apply for the removal of building works at the 200-acre former hop farm at Brierley, near Leominster.

The council's case was based on planning law, but is backed by a residents' campaign, led by the TV gardener, Monty Don. He said the farm complex - including polytunnels, 300 mobile homes, a doctor's surgery, cinema, disco, sauna, gym, internet café, library and pool - would be a "blight on the landscape".

Timothy Jones, for the council, told the judge in London that S&A had deliberately "jumped the gun" and started work without planning permission when it knew permission was needed, and said its group of companies "has a history of defying planning law".

Mr Justice Roderick Evans said S&A had "indulged in what can only be described as a flagrant, determined and cynical breach of planning procedures".