Call for action to be taken over Field of Dreams

This is the driveway the council has requested be removed.

This is the driveway the council has requested be removed. It leads to the animal enclosure, the shop, car park, and polytunnels - Credit: Field of Dreams

Two long-standing residents of Thurston have explained why they back enforcement action against a farm, saying the council has a duty "to protect our remaining open countryside".

Mark Byford and Sue Smith launched a campaign to save their Field of Dreams farm after Mid Suffolk District Council pressed for them to comply with planning - or face prosecution - but nearby residents Gerry Woollard and Christine Clark have come out in support of the authority.

The council says it has given Mr Byford "every reasonable opportunity" to comply with planning legislation following unauthorised development, including containers and polytunnels.

Mr Byford and Ms Smith said: "We are working away through our list of ‘to dos’ from the council and we have had positive communication from the enforcement department about how we can move forward with this amazing project."

The council said the main beaches of planning control include: the creation of a new driveway from Beyton Road; stationing of a portable building for sales and storage of farm produce; creation of a yard area and the siting of a mobile home; erection of containers and polytunnels.

Mrs Woollard and Mrs Clark said: "The local planning authority rightly the responsibility in this case to protect our remaining open countryside given the hefty, approved development taking place in the village."

They added: "Mid Suffolk District Council's efforts to uphold the law should be supported by the local people of Thurston because it is in their interests to do so."

Mr Byford was refused retrospective planning permission - applied for in 2018 - on the basis that the proposal would result in the permanent siting of a portacabin, driveway and parking area/yard that would be "intrusive" within rural and open countryside.

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The council's decision also said there wasn't enough evidence the farm shop stocked enough produce grown on site - and would essentially compete with local village facilities. 

Mark Byford and Sue Smith who run Field of Dreams in Thurston have launched a campaign to garner support for the farm

Mark Byford and Sue Smith who run Field of Dreams in Thurston have launched a campaign to garner support for the farm as it faces planning enforcement action - Credit: Field of Dreams

Mr Byford and Ms Smith said: "The support from the locals - nearly 3,000 signatures from regular farm users, and funding towards the campaign, helping to keep the farm alive - has been outstanding. 

"We know that lots of people value our tireless efforts, and would be heartbroken if we closed."

Mr Byford challenged the two enforcement notices issued in 2019 by Mid Suffolk, but the Planning Inspector concluded that the first appeal succeeded only in part - in relation to the vehicular access onto Beyton Road - and the second was dismissed.

The Mid Suffolk District Council spokesman said: “Prosecution is only ever used as a last resort by our planning team, who have been in correspondence with the owners of Field of Dreams to explore how best to move forward, while we continue to support them in carrying out the remedial action required to comply with planning legislation.”

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