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Ormesby farmer’s “sleeping pod” plans to meet lettuce demand

PUBLISHED: 09:40 13 January 2012 | UPDATED: 13:14 19 January 2012

Farmer Richard Hirst.

Farmer Richard Hirst.

Archant Norfolk Photographic © 2011

AN ORMESBY farmer facing a growing demand for lettuces says building bedrooms in his grain silos could solve the problem.

Hirst Farms says it needs to extend its growing season and produce more lettuces to satisfy demand - and to do this it must increase its summer workforce.

The farm currently provides lodging for around 150 Eastern European students during the months of April to October.

And to house further workers the farm hopes to turn four old grain silos into “sleeping pods” for 48 people.

Richard Hirst, owner of the farm, says he had considered the idea before, and the more he thought about it the more sense it made.

“We originally thought about doing it but decided it was odd,” he said.

“But we can’t use the silos for storing grain any more as the 1970s tinwork does not meet standards.

“They’re a feature in the yard really, so it makes sense.”

There would be two storeys of accommodation in each silo, with brickwork inside the tin shell and access to each upper storey from timber balconies.

Workers already enjoy purpose built kitchen, shower and dining facilities but Mr Hirst says finding extra sleeping space had proved problematic.

“A couple of the barns here are already used for storage but we just didn’t have the bed space,” he added. “I’m not aware that other farms have done this.

“Apart from looking like a silo in the yard it wouldn’t look any different to normal bedrooms inside.”

Existing workers are housed in portable buildings on the farm, and the farm owners say the plans would make good use of silos which currently have no use.

Under the plans, the silos would be lined with a block layer and insulated, with each one housing 12 people.

Hirst Farms is looking to build the “sleeping pods” at its Mill Farm site in North Road.

Mill Farm is an established farmstead with a large hay and machinery store, a large open courtyard, a converted former barn and a number of portable buildings.

The planning application was submitted to Great Yarmouth Borough Council on December 22 last year and is currently under consideration.

A consultation period will run until February 3.

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