Moo Man farmer land fears in Hailsham

Cow on red carpet in Hailsham for Moo Man film preview.
Cow on red carpet in Hailsham for Moo Man film preview.

A world famous Hailsham farmer said a new housing development in the town could put him out of business.

Dairy farmer Steve Hook, of Longleys Farm, said plans to build 135 houses on his best grazing land will destroy his livelihood.

“I have got no problem with housing if it does not impact on my business,” said Mr Hook, who was the star of the global hit documentary film called The Moo Man.

“Why should people lose their jobs because they want to make money out of houses? It should be done in a way which does not impact on rural businesses. The rural economy is in trouble as it is.”

Taylor Wimpey submitted an application for the land east of Battle Road and north of Harebeating Lane. It outlines plans for 135 homes including affordable housing. But Mr Hook said losing the land would leave the business in a “pretty pear-shaped” position.

“Basically we’ve got three areas of grazing land. One is on the upper part of the farm. That is where the best grazing land is – and where they want to build the houses. Another is not such good quality farmland, and the third area is Pevensey Levels marshland. In terms of producing milk it is not viable.”

He said if this land was lost, his 75 cow herd would have to be reduced to 50, and his milk production would go down to 41 per cent. “That would kill the business because it would not be viable,” he said.

Longleys Farm is unique in what it does, selling raw milk. “We’re pretty unique, we sell all of our milk from 75 cows, organic, unpasteurised milk.We make up 45 per cent of the UK’s raw milk market. We’re very pioneering in what we are doing with raw milk. Our farm is of national importance because of what we do with raw milk. We’re probably the only dairy farm in the country that is making money at the moment. We’re the last dairy farm in the parish of Hailsham.”

The farm employs eight full-time workers and 15 part-time workers, and Mr Hook said these jobs could be compromised if the farm loses the land. Hook and Son sells its produce online, delivers it around the area and visits farmers’ markets in London. View plans at www.planning.wealden.gov.uk/ with reference WD/2014/2617. Deadline for comments: January 30.