Thousands of people back family farm threatened with closure

The Holliday family have been tenant farmers at Westridge Farm for over 50 years (Photo: Save Westridge Farm)
The Holliday family have been tenant farmers at Westridge Farm for over 50 years (Photo: Save Westridge Farm)

Over 4,200 people have signed a petition urging the Isle of Wight Council to save a family dairy farm threatened by large-scale housing plans.

Developer Westridge Village, owned by the bosses of Captiva, put forward an application to build 475 properties on farmland in Ryde, Isle of Wight.

But the Holliday family, who have been the tenants of Westridge Farm since 1966, say the development, if approved, would force the farm to shut down.

The farm is one of only 10 dairy farms left on the Isle of Wight, according to the family.

The planning application West Acre Park would also mean the permanent loss of ancient hedgerows and habit, they add.

Their petition has been signed by thousands of people, and was handed to the local council on Tuesday (8 December).

Tenant farmer Nigel Holliday's son, 9-year-old Archie, wrote to the local ward representative, Councillor Michael Lilley, saying the 'houses will ruin the farm forever.'

“I want to be a farmer when I grow up like my dad, my grandad and great-grandad at Westridge Farm," Archie's letter, seen by Island Echo, said.

“The landlord and developers want to build all these houses which will ruin the farm forever. I do not understand why houses can be built on land that is being used.”

An online campaign website 'Save Westridge Farm' was created, which urged the public to submit their objections to the Isle of Wight council.

"Please help us protect this agricultural land and its precious ancient wildlife habitat valued and maintained over 700 years since pre-Doomsday Book," the website states.

"If [the] application is passed the land will never again produce orchards, dairy, sheep, pigs and timbers, or any other renewable resource.

"We will lose forever greenfield, ancient hedgerows and the habitat of red listed internationally endangered species."

The family's petition will remain open, and a decision on the planning application will be made in the new year.