ONE of Herefordshire's biggest soft fruit growers is reviewing how it houses its seasonal workers due to uncertainty surrounding Brexit and the economy.

Marden's S&A Produce (UK) is an independently-owned British family business which supplies strawberries, raspberries, blackberries, blueberries, asparagus and avocados to many of the UK's major retailers.

The firm has around 170 permanent staff and more than 1,000 seasonal workers with farms in Spain, South America and China as well as the UK.

The company has recently asked Herefordshire Council for permission to remove a planning condition at Brook Farm which would otherwise require the removal of mobile homes and restoring the site to its former use by May this year.

The site currently has permission to house up to 850 seasonal workers there in up to 185 static caravans supported by a housing block accommodating 110 employees.

They submitted plans in 2016 to build 69 multiple occupation homes to house agricultural workers and had expected these to have been approved in time to commence work on the replacement of caravans.

But due to uncertainties in the economy they say they are now conducting a full review into how they house their workforce and want permanent permission for the mobile homes.

Caroline Richardson, senior planner at Aspbury Planning, the applicant’s agent, said in a letter to the council: “Changing economic and commercial conditions and particularly the impact of Brexit, has obliged the company to undertake a full review of its seasonal workers’ accommodation requirements, both quantitative and qualitative.

“This may result in amendments to the undetermined 2016 application for houses in multiple occupation and in the meantime that undetermined application is in abeyance.

“In the circumstances and in view of the impending deadline under the 2010 permission, it has been decided to place that planning permission on the same basis as the other temporary planning permissions granted at that time – notably that for the polytunnels at Brook Farm – and seek a permanent permission by removing condition 2.”

Residents have until January 31 to comment on the proposals which Herefordshire Council planners expect to consider by March 20.