Growing Agritech in the Fields of North Yorkshire

A unique proposal, combining the modern farming technique of hydroponics with a bespoke holiday chalet development, could see farmers from around the world attending courses to learn about growing crops without soil.

While most proposals to develop green field sites generate controversy, just weeks after Red Roofs Lodges’ submitted an application to Hambleton District Council to transform farm fields near Tanton, north of Stokesley, the scheme has received some 35 letters of support and no objections.

Planning papers state 21 bespoke and environmentally-friendly lodges and a vertical fruit farm would be created to support the hydroponics businesses, which has operated at a “scaled down” level since being granted planning permission in 2009 due to a lack of investment.

Red Roofs aims to grow wheatgrass, fodder and micro greens using hydroponics, a method of growing plants in greenhouses on nutrient rich water, without soil, with only their roots submerged in the water.

The plan will transform fields north of Tanton, near Stokesley

The proposal would see five previously approved polytunnels produce crops equivalent to those generated from a 600-acre farm, and use much less water than traditional agriculture.

While hydroponics technology has been known for more than 50 years, its adoption has been low due to the high capital investment required, running costs and expertise needed . It forms a less than 0.1 per cent of overall global cultivation.

The documents state the applicant had investigated all avenues for Government and national funding for this type of farming with no joy and aimed through the proposal to kick start and sustain the hydroponics venture.

They state: “The aim of this new business venture is to be financially self-sufficient and to market this hydroponic set up to other local and national farmers in the UK and across the rest of the world. It will include training courses which would allow visitors to be accommodated on site if need be.

“It is important to retain this business and provide financial security for this as there are a number of environmental benefits associated with hydroponics which include higher yield production, water conservation and the removal of pesticides and herbicides.

“This proposed leisure development is unique and different to similar recently approved proposals within this borough, as it combines modern farming diversification alongside a requisite and bespoke holiday development…”

The papers state up to 12 local people would be employed at the development, where fruit trees have been staked out across to the site in “a modern and new way of producing fruits with higher yield than an orchard”.

To bolster the environmental credentials of the venture each chalet would include solar panels, recycled timber framed structure and electric car charging points, while the site would also see wildflower meadows and trees planted.

Among those supporting the plans, Razvan Hopet describe the proposal as an “excellent attraction”, adding: “Absolutely amazing idea and great project, I believe the area will benefit from new jobs and people enjoying the country side of North Yorkshire. ”

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