An Ocado-backed vertical farming pioneer has been given the go-ahead to convert a former camshaft factory to grow food in Lydney. Jones Food Company Ltd was granted permission this week to change the use of the former JD Norman Foundry to provide an indoor hydroponic farming facility off the A48.
Hydroponics is a method for growing plants without soil, in water and with the addition of nutrients. It is usually crops that are grown and can comprise of herbs, salad and berries. Online supermarket giant Ocado made a multi-million-pound investment into the Scunthorpe vertical farming start-up in 2019. And now they are expected to create up to 30 jobs in Lydney.
Their proposals include roof alterations and roof-mounted solar panels and will involve installing an external heating, ventilation, and air conditioning system, water tanks, a CO2 ingestion system. They also want to change the exterior of the building and extend and increase the roof height. The main area for the extension will be to the rear of the building, which will create a ‘wrap around’ extension to the existing elements at the side of the building.
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There will also be a small extension to the front of the building. They say the reason for the increase in height to the building is to maximise growing space internally. The increase in height will be three metres and solar panels will be mounted to the roof. They want to use the existing access from the A48 and they expect to create 30 jobs once operational.
At yesterday’s (March 8) planning committee meeting, Councillor Thom Forester (Independent Alliance, Mitcheldean, Ruardean & Drybrook) raised concerns over ground contamination and the volume of waste the operation will generate. However, planning officers recommended approving the scheme subject to conditions.
Cllr Maria Edwards (Independent, Tidenham) proposed approving the scheme and this was seconded Cllr Julia Gooch (The Progressive Independents, Newent & Taynton). The committee voted in favour of the proposals by 10 votes to one against.
She said: “It’s going to provide up to 30 full-time jobs. It’s the redevelopment of an employment site and I’m absolutely for this application.”
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