PLANS to home 24,000 free range hens close to one of Britain’s most famous battlefields have been unanimously rejected.
A farmer near Berwick applied to Northumberland County Council for permission for a unit for the chickens at a site a quarter of a mile from Flodden Field, where England and Scotland fought in 1513.
The field hosts a monument to the famous battle and major commemorative events are planned there to mark the 500th anniversary.
Plans have also been drawn up for an eco-museum on the site to mark the battle, while there has been talk of a visitor centre being built there.
The chicken scheme angered villagers who claim the unit would be “insensitive and inconsiderate” so close to the site where many were killed in battle, and not “a just and fitting” way to remember them.
Twenty three residents wrote letters of opposition, including a high profile clergyman, while the local parish council also objected.
The council recommended the plan be approved, despite acknowledging the site’s potential for archaeological features and finds associated with the battle.
However, at a meeting on Thursday night, members voted unanimously against that advice, refusing the scheme on the grounds of an “adverse impact on the historic asset of Flodden battlefield site.”
Last night, objector George Farr, who spoke against the scheme at the meeting as owner of the Pallinsburn Estate and a member of the Flodden 500 Steering group, set up by Lord James Joicey, whose Ford and Etal estate includes the battlefield, to organise the commemorative events, said: “Obviously we are delighted. I think that the whole site is incredibly sensitive.
“We have the quincentenary coming up in 2013, so that is one of the main roads from the A697 to the battlefield site, and to be met by a chicken shed I did not think it would be very appropriate, and nor did a lot of people round here.”
The application for a site close to Branxton was from John Laing, of East Learmouth Farm, Cornhill, who had a deal in place with Derbyshire-based poultry producer John Bowler.
The proposal had attracted opposition from the Bishop of Wakefield the Rt Rev Stephen Platten, who has a home in the village, Branxton Parish Council and local vicar Rev Linda Gardham among others.
The application was first brought before the county council last month, when having been addressed by Mr Farr, members voted to hold a site visit.
Councillors visited Mr Laing’s land, the battlefield and a free range hen unit at Detchant, near Belford.
The application came back before the north area planning committee on Thursday night, when members voted to reject it.
The Journal was unable to contact Mr Laing, while agent Ian Pick failed to return our calls.
He had previously said he had “no idea” how the proposal could have an impact on the battlefield as it would not be visible from the site and would not produce any odour.
To be met by a chicken shed – I did not think it would be very appropriate and nor did a lot of people round here