TV’s Kate Humble gets green light for skills centre
3:20pm Thursday 10th January 2013 in News
PRESENTER Kate Humble’s project to create a centre of excellence for rural skills “could put Monmouthshire on the map”, councillors were told.
The county council’s planning committee agreed converting redundant agricultural buildings at Upper Meend Farm, near Penallt, for such an educational use could benefit the economy.
The council still owns 30 per cent of the working farm, according to head of planning George Ashworth, who was delighted councillors gave the plans the green light.
He said: “The council is keen to see it happen. It might put Monmouthshire on the map.”
Ms Humble, who runs the livestock farm with her BAFTA award winning TV producer husband Ludo Graham, runs a number of courses there.
Under the title Humble by Nature, people can learn about food, crafts, rural skills and working with animals.
Ms Humble, who has presented Springwatch and is president of the RSPB, has permission for facilities in the buildings, including a lecture room, kitchen and dining area.
The application states one day courses will be available, run by a tenant farmer and specialists.
A pop-up restaurant could also showcase local produce that is grown on the farm, inviting groups in by minibus, as part of the diversification.
Before the plans were approved, councillor Debbie Blakebrough said: “I think it’s a positive business which adds to the vibrancy and economy of the area.”
Cllr David Dovey, in relation to the council’s 30 per cent interest in the venture, said: “We look upon these activities as equally stringently as others.”
A report to cabinet members in 2011 said the project would not only bring a financial return to the council, but would become a “prestigious, prominent and iconic destination designed to stimulate growth in the local rural, food and tourism industries and celebrate brand Monmouthshire