A European first for the strawberry industry is already delivering on its promise of increased yields of higher quality fruit for a Kent producer after DHA helped Charltons secure permission for a £5m investment.

Charltons, one of the county’s largest family-owned soft and top fruit producers, has built 30 acres of fully retractable greenhouses developed by Canadian company Cravo, to protect its crops and reduce its environmental impact. 

Key facts
  • 30 acres of retractable greenhouses
  • New drainage system
  • 24,980m3 reservoir

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Planning permission was given for the retractable greenhouses, as well as storage buildings, water storage tanks, a drainage system and a 24,980m3 reservoir on land at Ulcombe in Kent. 

DHA undertook a pre-application consultation with Historic England due to the site’s close proximity to the Grade I Listed All Saints Church, and also attended Parish Council meetings during the application process to keep the local community informed of progress.

The site, on the Greensand Ridge, was deemed by the council to be a landscape of local value but not designated as an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty. The proposals incorporated planting of native species trees, hedgerows and conifers under a landscaping scheme.

Despite the local Parish Council opposing the scheme on the grounds of landscape impact and the accumulative effect of the new Cravo greenhouses and other nearby polytunnels on the Greensand Ridge, the application secured the officer’s recommendation for approval.

Historic England raised no objection on the proposal’s impact on the setting of the historic church and permission was granted by Maidstone Borough Council.

After planning permission was secured from Maidstone Borough Council, Charlton Farms started construction on site in January 2018, with the first strawberries planted this February and harvested from May onwards.

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