A POPULAR 'field to fork' kitchen near Knutsford has taken a step to safeguard its business and staff.

Groobarbs Field Kitchen in High Legh opened in August 2022 and has quickly become the number one rated restaurants in the area on Tripadvisor.

Originally operating under general permitted development rules, owners of the Mag Lane restaurant, David and Becky Fryer have now submitted a retrospective planning application to regularise the business.

The application, to Cheshire East Council, seeks permission for the retrospective change of use of an agricultural store to a restaurant - this relates to the converted barn where the field kitchen runs.

The concept of Groobarbs Field Kitchen followed the huge success of Groobox Ltd, a fruit and vegetable box scheme operating at the site since 2013.

Knutsford Guardian: Diners enjoying the restaurantDiners enjoying the restaurant (Image: Groobarbs Field Kitchen)

In a design and access statement, submitted as part of the application, it says: "The business needs to protect its size.

"Therefore we need to showcase the farm's produce so existing customers continue to receive fruit and veg boxes and new customers are introduced to the farms veg box business.

"A restaurant where visitors walk around the veg growing allows visitors to see what the farm grows and provide new ways for customers to cook with their veg box and introduce new people to the veg box.

"The restaurant opened initially under general permitted development order 28-day rule but quickly realised the positive impact it was having on the agricultural business caused the farm to decide to stay open.

Knutsford Guardian: Groobarbs owner David with some of the produceGroobarbs owner David with some of the produce (Image: Groobarbs Field Kitchen)

"The farm needs to apply for a change of use of an agricultural store to a restaurant.

"This application will safeguard the 26 FTE staff and existing farm business, plus a further nine FTE roles that will operate the Field Kitchen."

The design and access statement added the restaurant would re-use and share existing buildings on the site, the farm drive and the yard area for parking with no new engineering works or development required.

The restaurant plans to open on Fridays, when the majority of the farm's staff or not present, and at weekends, when the farm is closed.

For more details on the application, search reference 23/1271M on the council's online planning portal.