Express can reveal that there are plans to turn the Tamba Park site in St. Lawrence into a hemp farm, with growing expected to start in spring 2020.
Former owner, and now part-owner, Jonathan Ruff today confirmed that plans are well advanced, and that a new company has already been formed with a licence granted for hemp production.
Mr Ruff is one of a number of shareholders in the new business.
"We are quite far along," said Mr Ruff. "The company has had its licence to grow hemp granted and we have started to sort out the glasshouses that surround Tamba Park to put them back into agricultural use."
In July 2018, Mr Ruff failed to get plans passed for a holiday park on the glasshouse site, primarily due to opposition from residents who argued the site should remain reserved for agricultural use. He’s hoping for a better reaction to the new plans.
Pictured: Tamba's dinosaurs will be replaced by a hemp crop.
"I’m expecting residents to be having a party because my planning application for a holiday village was rejected because of its bad use of agricultural space. All the complaints were that it should be used for agriculture. Guess what, they’ve got it, it’s now being used for agriculture!"
"For me this is the next best option," he said. "I can’t stand being an entrepreneur and seeing buildings that can be used for business just standing there. This whole industry, medicinal cannabis in Jersey, is great for the economy. It is a profitable product if done right and the tax generated from that would be great for the island. It is genuinely a positive thing."
The glasshouses on the site have a surface area of around 350,000 square feet.
It’s anticipated the whole Tamba Park site will be used for the new venture: "There’s not a great deal from a Planning perspective that we need to do. Whether we have to knock one (glasshouse) down and rebuild is what we’re looking at but only replacing with existing. It’s internal modifications we need to consult with planning on. Right now it’s just building control, so creating internal rooms for growing of the crop."
Pictured: the new company has already secured a licence to grow hemp.
News of the plan comes after the children’s play park, also known as the ‘Dinosaur Park’, was closed to the public in June.
Just months before, memberships were phased out in favour of individual entry fees.
In September Mr Ruff announced to his Facebook followers that he was planning to re-open the outside area of Tamba Park and invited suggestions from the public on how best to use the area. This now looks unlikely.
"For the time being it will not be re-opened for leisure use. We want to find a use for it, and if it can be used for the agricultural side of the business that’s what it will be used for. If not, we will look at other uses."
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