Thank you for stopping by to have a look at our proposed plans for the erection of a polytunnel at Vine Road Recreation Ground. We would like as many as possible to be fully informed and to be able to have their say about these plans.  Therefore, we have set out our thoughts below, and it is possible to view the full application here. If you want more detail do please contact us and we will be happy to go over the plans in as much detail as you wish - better still, stop by the office and we can discuss it all on site and in context.

Reasons for Application:

Given the increasing demands and popularity of the community growing projects at Vine Road Recreation Ground, there is now a real need for suitable greenhouse space to bring plants on from seed, extend the growing season and improve the quality of the produce.  After investigations, we concluded that a polytunnel of roughly 6m x 10m would be best for these purposes - and would also provide a sheltered space for work in inclement weather, as well as a defined space for working with small special needs and vulnerable groups, including young people, marginalised groups and those living with dementia or memory loss, which is also part of our Aims.

Although planning consent for polytunnels in an agricultural environment is normally easy to obtain under an exemption or exception, because Vine Road Recreation Ground is not agricultural, we cannot rely on these exemptions or exceptions.  Additionally, it forms part of a conservation area. Therefore, we have had to make a full formal planning application. This was submitted on 22nd August and we will advise the planning reference number once we have received this. 

We believe we have a strong case for approval: not only is there need, but that need is linked to recreational uses for the benefit of the community - the primary purpose of the site.  In addition, buildings needed for recreational purposes are permitted in sensitive sites under the national planning policy framework. 

The proposal is to locate it in the corner next to the storage yard, so the visual intrusion will be minimised:  we also plan to soft landscape round it to provide a screen of fruiting trees (using historic varieties linked to the site's former orchard status) and shrubs (including vines).  This location has no practical impact on the use of the site for play, dog walking or any of the other leisure activities undertaken on site. 

Polytunnels are by their nature easily moved or removed  - and we would be happy to undertake to remove it if it ceases to be used for community growing projects.  We believe that it will contribute increasingly to the sustainability agenda throughout its life, and help to encourage more people to learn that they can grow an interesting range of produce for their own consumption in limited urban spaces.

The concept has of course been discussed with and is supported by Officers in the Council's Parks’ Department. 

However, as with any planning application it will be very helpful if individuals would be prepared to write in in support, which can be done easily via the planning section on the Council’s website as highlighted above, once the application has been validated and received a planning application number. 

We would, of course, be particularly keen to have your support and would be very happy to provide you with any additional information you may wish to have, or to address any concerns.  Should you have any reservations, please do contact us, and we can explain our reasoning, and the lengths we have gone to to make this proposal a positive addition to Vine Road and its community and education activities.

Friends of Barnes Common Management Committee, August 2017