Plans for wild deer farm given green light

Chatsworth Farm, Broad Oak. Deer shed application SUS-150924-085748008
Chatsworth Farm, Broad Oak. Deer shed application SUS-150924-085748008

Plans for a 1,200sqm building to house wild deer and machinery at Chatsworth Farm have been approved, despite objections from local groups.

Wealden District Council’s planning committee gave the application the green light last week, much to the despair of local residents and Heathfield and Waldron Parish Council.

The plan includes the construction of a steel-framed building covering an area of 30m by 40m and reaching 6m in height, in the field to the south of Chatsworth Farm house, near to the A265 road.

Mr and Mrs Arran Moon acquired the land in September 2014 and now wish to develop a farm business, rearing and selling native red deer. Since buying the land, they have planted 1,500 native trees in readiness for the deer.

The planning application caused concern among local residents and Heathfield and Waldron Parish Council objected to the proposal. In their response to Wealden District Council’s planning committee, the parish council said: “The council objects to this application, which is considered to be of disproportionate size, resulting in an adverse impact on neighbours. Concerns were also raised about safety for users of the highway and it was considered that deer-proof fencing would need to be provided. The planting of trees along the boundary was noted but they would be ineffective as screening until they were more mature.”

Despite this, the plans were given the go ahead on Thursday, September 17 with a list of conditions. They include: “The deer fencing shall be provided prior to first use of the building hereby permitted.

“No floodlighting, security lighting or other external means of illumination of the site shall be provided, installed or operated at the site, except in accordance with a detailed scheme which shall provide for lighting that is low level, hooded and directional.

“The building shall solely be used for the housing of livestock or agricultural crops, animal feed, fodder and machinery/equipment relating to the farming activity undertaken on the land.”

The agricultural shed will initially house 10 hinds aged 15/18 months, which will be put to a stag in the autumn of 2016. The hinds will calve the following May 2017. Ten more older hinds will be purchased in the autumn of 2016 and will be 27/30 months old. These will be with the stag at the same time as the younger hinds. All being well, there should be 20 calves by May 2017. Female calves will be retained for breeding purposes and to expand the herd to 50 breeding adult female deer. Once fully established, there are likely to be a total of 150 deer of varying ages.”

The first and foremost reason for the demand for deer is the increasing popularity of venison.

It is regarded as a high-quality, expensive meat, low in fat. The second and potentially most lucrative reason for the demand growth in red deer is the breeding and sporting aspect of the stock. UK native red deer stags can have magnificent heads, meaning their antlers can grow to be extremely impressive. Some hunters will pay considerable sums to shoot such stags. According to the agricultural appraisal included in the application, The Moons hope to tap into this side of the business as well.

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