Sustainable farm shop gets the go-ahead

Of probable interest to members and their local residents, planning permission has been granted for a brand new sustainable shopping and dining venue to be built at Ote Hall Farm, Wivelsfield, in the heart of Sussex.

The Ote Hall Farm Shop and Tea Room will provide an opportunity for locals to experience truly home-grown produce while also creating employment in the community.

At a planning meeting held on 21 January, the application was given unanimous approval by the members. Cllr Gary Marsh, chairman of the planning committee, said: “Mid Sussex District Council strongly supports this type of application. It showcases the rural economy at its best. It will provide up to 25 full time employees and will also help Ote Hall Farm to thrive with this latest initiative. It was supported by an enthusiastic reception to the proposal from across Burgess Hill, Wivelsfield and its surrounding areas.”

As the popularity of locally sourced, sustainable food continues to grow, this Farm Shop will become a hub for local farmers and food producers. It will include butchery and deli counters, offering everything from craft drinks to fresh, frozen and pantry goods along with weigh-your-own dry ingredients.

The Tea Room will offer a selection of healthy and wholesome quality food, served with a smile.

With up to a third of products sourced from within a 30-mile radius, the project will boost Mid Sussex’s agricultural community, giving locals the chance to taste Ote Hall Farm’s traditional grass fed Sussex beef, as well as pork, lamb, and game reared on the farm.

Ote Hall is a family run beef and arable farm which has been owned by the Godman family since the 16th Century. The family were responsible for building Great Ote Hall in 1530, the 1600 extension and the latest addition in 1880.

The farm is currently run by Carola Godman Irvine who said: “We are delighted to have received such widespread backing.”

“Ote Hall would not have survived as a purely traditionally run farm without having already diversified with business units and as a wedding venue. The farm shop project is essential to future-proof the farm financially, now and into the next century.”

“We have been overwhelmed by the public’s enthusiastic backing, including 53 letters of support sent to the council, and hundreds of personal messages both verbal and written from the local community.”

“Our aim is to make quality, local produce more accessible – and, crucially, to also provide jobs at such a critical time for the local community. We fully intend for our Farm Shop and Tea Room to become the ‘go to place’ for the local community to meet, shop and talk, as well as provide a showcase for local farmers.”

“I would like to pay tribute to the very professional team of advisers who have supported us throughout the planning process, including: Mark Ellis at Appetite Me, Andrew Hodgson at Pegasus, and Graham Boyce at ArkleBoyce. Their specialised and expert advice and design ensured that this project has been both an acceptable and very attractive addition to the precious heritage and reputation of Ote Hall and the Godman family.”

Ote Hall Farm was famous for its prize-winning pedigree dairy Guernsey cattle up until the 1960s. These were replaced with native pure-bred Sussex beef cattle which are currently sold directly to farm shops, as well as local and London independent butchers.

Carola and her sons Matthew and Charley will create the ‘Godman Foundation’ which will promote education, training and mentoring of young people, including those with disabilities, using profits from the new business.

It is expected that the Ote Hall Farm Shop & Tea Room will open in 2022.

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