New farm facilities on green belt land, branded the “largest expansion in Lee Valley for 50 years”, have been given the go-ahead.

The scheme at Valley Grown Nurseries in Paynes Lane, Nazeing, which is within the boundaries of the protected Lee Valley Regional Park, will see the construction of a renewable energy plant and 21 acres of glasshouses to grow tomatoes and peppers.

The plans also include a water storage facility and are expected to create more than 40 jobs.

The planning application was supported by industry groups Lea Valley Growers and the Lee Valley Food Task Force, as well as the National Farmers Union (NFU).

The union hailed it "the largest expansion in the Lee Valley for 50 years" when it announced the decision made by Epping Forest District Council on Tuesday.

Lea Valley Growers secretary Lee Stiles said: “This is a great opportunity to grow more local food, reduce food imports and create local jobs.

“Schemes like this will help ensure the horticulture industry in the Lee Valley has a viable future.”
NFU President Meurig Raymond said: “This decision is excellent news for British growers, British consumers and the British economy.

“I’m delighted that the planners have recognised this and taken this decision to back British farming.”

The horticultural industry in the Lea Valley employs more than 1,000 people and produces cucumbers and peppers with a retail value of £1bn.