Industrial-scale mushroom ‘factory’ inappropriate in the Green Belt

30th July 2020

CPRE opposes the proposal for buildings and associated infrastructure including car parking on Grade 1 agricultural land in the low-lying open countryside of Scarisbrick.

West Lancashire’s District Plan recognises the importance of the local Landscape Character; for the Scarisbrick area it is desribed as ‘low undulating land… with panoramic views, farmsteads, nucleated settlements, arable farmland’.

CPRE, along with the Parish Council and many local residents, feel that a large, industrial-style building would have an unacceptable impact on the openness of the Green Belt in this area, particularly in light of the fact that the low-lying land would mean the buildings would be visible from a wide area. The size of the proposed building is unprecedented within West Lancashire.

In a similar case, where a smaller extension to a mushroom farm was planned in open countryside in North Yorkshire, the Planning Inspector commented ‘the massive footprint results in a building of enormous bulk… Where an agricultural development gets to a size and scale such as this, its impact can mean that the proposed countryside location is not suitable, having dominant and unacceptable influence on landscape character'[1].

The site is also comprised of Grade 1 agricultural land, currently given over to grain crops. Grade 1 land is the best and most versatile land, which means a wide variety of crops can be grown on it, and yields are higher. It is a scarce and finite resource. CPRE supports local food production, but this development falls outside that which we would normally support, as it would mean the land being covered with hardstanding to grow mushrooms within an enclosed environment upon a substrate which is not locally produced.

The proposed development site is between two RAMSAR sites – protected, internationally significant sites for wetland birds. Natural England have found that, should it go ahead, it would have a negative impact on migrating birds. The site would be productive 24 hours a day, which would cause light pollution and have a detrimental impact both on the tranquillity of this rural site and the circadian rhythms of wildlife.

The development would lead to an additional 104 HGV movements per day on a road which is in places too narrow for HGVs to fit two abreast. It is a locally important road linking Ormskirk and Southport and already has issues with congestion. The site would also contain a 58-space car park.

We hope that councillors take into account the cumulative effect of all of the above issues, and reject this proposal.

Please download our objection letter below to read the detailed reasoning behind our objections to this proposal.

CPRE objection letter

Note:

[1] Appeal Decision by Graham Dudley BA (Hons) Arch Dip Cons AA RIBA FRICS

Decision date: 28 November 2011

Appeal Ref: APP/E2734/A/10/2126460

Proposed site for mushroom 'factory'
Quernmore landscape