Retrospective permission bid for medicinal hemp farm

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Northern Leaf Ltd has lodged an application to turn the site into an agricultural facility.

Jonathan Ruff, who owns the property, first revealed his plans for the complex in January, saying that it was likely to be up and running within months and that a third-party company, of which he was a shareholder, would run the operation.

He previously received permission to erect fences around the site, despite objections from nearby residents regarding noise pollution and odours.

However, Mr Ruff said that the agricultural operation would have less of an impact on neighbours than its previous tourism function. If the application is refused, the applicant could be forced to stop using the building for agricultural purposes.

A design statement accompanying the application says: ‘This planning application seeks formal (retrospective) approval for the internal modification of the existing building, removing existing partitions and framework associated with the former play-zone functions and the creation of a new internal partition layout to facilitate the new spatial agreement.

‘It is accepted that the existing building historically was associated with agriculture, being part of the Eastern Retreat Farm glasshouse. It was subsequently formally changed in use to provide commercial space associated with the previous Lion Park facility and then subsequently Tamba Park play zone.

‘This application seeks the department’s approval for a section of the building, as identified, its change of use back to its former agricultural use that being ancillary to the agricultural function of the adjoining eastern glasshouse.’

According to its website, Northern Leaf Ltd cultivates ‘pharmaceutical-grade’ hemp, using ‘state-of-the-art tracking systems, robust protocols and policies to ensure the highest levels of quality from seed to sale’.

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