South Holland farm plan to house 120 people so it can thrive in post Brexit Britain

Matthew Naylor looking to provide homes on farm for workers.
Matthew Naylor looking to provide homes on farm for workers.
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A booming farming company wants to house up to 120 people on its own land in a bid to ensure it has enough workers to thrive in post-Brexit Britain.

Naylor Flowers Ltd is seeking planning consent to site ten log cabins and 13 mobile homes at Vickers Park, in Washway Road, Moulton Marsh.

The farm where Naylor Flowers want to site 23 homes. SG020517-111TW

The farm where Naylor Flowers want to site 23 homes. SG020517-111TW

The homes will be lived in for only nine months of the year and each one will accommodate six people with a maximum of 120 on site at any one time.

The firm has relied on licenced gang masters to supply flower harvest workers and, in recent years, most have been economic migrants from Eastern Europe who have lived in Boston.

But workers say there is a shortage of affordable housing and Naylor Flowers is also worried about some private landlords exploiting the workers.

Agents for the firm, the Robert Doughty Consultancy, say: “Naylor Flowers feel that the tried and tested method of accommodating a well-managed workforce on site would stop exploitation of workers in a way that could not be guaranteed under the current arrangement.

“It would give the workers security of employment and affordable, well maintained accommodation.

“It would also stop workers migrating to other agencies at the promise of higher wages only to find that the work has dried up two weeks later at which point they may enter the benefits system.”

The comments come in a design and access statement submitted in support of the planning application to South Holland District Council.

Naylor Flowers grow cut flowers and potatoes on 202 hectares of land in a 16km radius of Moulton Seas End for customers including Aldi, the Co-op and Waitrose.

The Robert Doughty Consultancy says the company has increased production by 50 per cent in the last year and has found it harder to recruit the right calibre of labour.

They say: “The UK’s exit from the EU may further reduce the availability of workers for the horticultural jobs at Naylor Flowers, while increasing demand for the goods which they produce.

“The labour requirements of the business have never been, and never will be met, by the indigenous population.

“The provision of this accommodation would also allow a flexible approach in uncertain times if Naylor Flowers was required to use UK-born students in the future.”

The agents point out Brexit will have significant impact on the cut flower sector. They say the UK imports 85 per cent of cut flowers bought by shoppers here and the demand for home grown flowers is likely to increase now the value of sterling has weakened.

Naylor Flowers is run by Matthew Naylor and Christopher Edgeley.

Mr Naylor told us: “There is a lot of uncertainty about who is going to harvest the crops in the fields in Lincolnshire and we are looking at alternative ways of employing people subject to getting planning consent.

“In Lincolnshire there is a demand for people to do harvesting jobs but there isn’t enough accommodation for them. There’s quite a shortage of housing in this area.”

He believes the new homes proposed for the farm, with double glazing and central heating, will improve the lives of those harvesting the crops as well as benefiting the company.

Mr Naylor said: “We are predicting there will be an increased demand for what we are doing and think there could be quite rosy times ahead for the local flower industry.”