Fruitful chance for giant glasshouse?

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PLANS to build a greenhouse in Kirtlington capable of growing up to 70 tonnes of fruit per year were approved last week.

The commercial greenhouse will be just over 96m by 68m – roughly the same size as a football pitch.

Two crops of fresh delicacies such as strawberries could be grown each year at the site in Lince Lane.

Members of Cherwell District Council’s planning committee gave the plans the go-ahead on Thursday last week.

Stephen Bell, owner of the fruit farm site – newly named Bridgeside Farm – told committee members he felt the future of glasshouse growing lay in building small units to supply local markets with fresh produce.

He said he had been involved in the trade for 32 years, and that he hoped to live on the site while managing the crops.

“For most of the year we would not need any outside help, but during the picking seasons we intend to recruit local labour, so avoiding the need to accommodate seasonal workers.

“I hope to build a state-of-the-art unit which is ecologically and environmentally friendly and does not use polytunnels,” he added.

Kirtlington Parish Council had raised several objections to the scheme.

Council members feared the scale of the development was too large, and had concerns about the site’s water supply. Members also said they expected the fruit farm to be a 24-hour operation.