New crop research centre set for Chichester

Tim Gleeson, company secretary at Bartholomews
Tim Gleeson, company secretary at Bartholomews

One of the continent’s leading agricultural food companies has secured permission to build a brand new crop research station, potentially making it one of the strongest in the world.

The application for Bartholomews Agrifood was deferred on August 17 due to issues involving landscape screening and the colour of the cladding. However, after an updated proposal, Chichester District Council’s planning committee approved the plan.

At a meeting yesterday (Wednesday September 14), members agreed that the economic value of the new building outweighs the potential issues from the scale of the building.

Chichester-based family firm Bartholomews Agrifood will move the bulk of its business from its Bognor Road site to just off the Drayton roundabout, along the A259 at Merston.

Planning agent Daniel Knight said: “The deferral has given us the time to address the issues that were raised previously.

“By putting the site where we propose it minimises the impact on the road by being at the back of the site.”

Mr Knight added: “We are happy to work with the colours preferred with your advisors and we have re-engineered the building to lower it by three metres as we were aware the scale and mass of the building was a concern.”

The site will allow the expansion and growth of the current crop research, including work with the national institute of agricultural botany.

Cllr Plowman, who had concerns about the application in August, said: “This site will bring economic benefit not only to our region but nationally and is important for the future of the country.

“Yes, it is a large building, but the economic value outweighs the impact of the scale of the building.

“The council was right to defer it before, and what we have now is a much improved scheme for landscaping.

“I believe there is a very positive impact of having this building here, the landscaping will only help to improve the wildlife and bird life in the area.”

Cllr Purnell agreed: “Yes for a few years it is going to stand out, but like with all visuals you get used to it in the end.”

The council’s planning committee permitted the development with the condition that landscaping would be maintained for 25 years.

Changes are also set to take place at Bartholomews’ current site, as CDC approved the demolition of the current buildings, apart from its offices, to make way for 24 flats and 33 houses.

In the planning statement it says: “The comprehensive redevelopment of the southern portion of the Bartholomews’ site will result in considerable improvements to the site’s biodiversity whilst delivering much needed housing which complements and enhances the surrounding residential nature of the Arundel Park Estate.”