Planning officers recommended £30m Kent scheme for approval but councillors voted for refusal
Foster & Partners-designed proposals for a winery in Kent are set to be decided by a planning inspector after councillors went against officers’ recommendations and rejected the scheme.
The scheme for Vinyeyard Farms would have delivered a 15,912sq m facility at a farm near the village of Cuxton, where vines are being planted on a 485ha farm.
It would have included a visitor centre and café, fermenting space, a barrel room, a maturing cellar and an energy centre that would have created biogas from grape skins.
Eighty-five percent of the development - named the Kentish Wine Vault – would have been underground, however the site lies within the Metropolitan Green Belt and the Kent Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty.
Medway Council planning officers urged councillors to back the £30m scheme, citing its ability to support between 75 and 100 jobs, its capacity to create viticulture opportunities, and also the potential to promote future commercial and cultural investment in the area.
But planning committee members rejected the proposals earlier this year. Their formal reason for refusal said the scale and nature of the proposed development would result in a “significant increase in additional activity” in the area that would “constitute a severe adverse impact and a direct loss of the currently undeveloped tranquillity and wildness of the AONB”.
Councillors also said that allowing the development to go ahead would “lead to the erosion of the rural character and uniqueness of the community” of the Upper Bush Conservation Area and the wider parish of Cuxton, contrary to local planning policies.
According to the Planning Inspectorate, an inquiry hearing is due to take place in January.