Suffolk's 'Field of Dreams' farm facing planning row nightmare

  • Watch a full report from Alex Iszatt.

The owners of a "community farm" in Suffolk say a council planning row is pushing them to the brink of closure.

The Field of Dreams, in Thurston near Bury St Edmunds, describes itself as a hub for the community, providing home grown food as well as giving other local growers a place to  sell their products.

But now it faces a fine of £20,000 from Mid Suffolk District Council, which insists planning regulations have been broken.

The farm owners have launched a petition to secure its future. Credit: ITV News Anglia

The council says it has received "numerous complaints over the years, from 16 separate complainants."

But owner Mark Byford insisted they had "worked tirelessly for six years with the council".

He said: "The whole farm has been built by volunteers, the community has been involved since day one. It would be a shame to see that all closed.

"We've got a drive they (the council) are not happy with, two steel containers they are not happy with and we've got two large polytunnels they are not happy with.

Field of Dreams owner Mark Byford. Credit: ITV News Anglia

"It would be lovely for the council to see there is a public demand for this and if the public says they want it surely the public should get what they want."

The council said it recognised the "importance of Mid Suffolk’s rich agricultural heritage and firmly supports farming, and other businesses, in the district."

"However, for the safety and amenity of all of our residents, unauthorised development must be investigated and we have received a number of complaints from the local community about the site," said a spokesperson.

“Anyone found to be in breach of planning control is given a reasonable period of time to correct the situation and our preference is always to work to find a resolution before any formal enforcement action is taken.

“Prosecution is only ever used as a last resort by our planning team, who have been in correspondence with the owners of Field of Dreams to explore how best to move forward, while we continue to support them in carrying out the remedial action required to comply with planning legislation.”