A heated row resulting from a planning application for change of use of land in Stawley has finally been decided in the applicant’s favour despite residents voicing objections and serious concerns about the proposal.
John Ker, Manager of Kittsford Barton Farm north of Appley, submitted the application for the siting of 8 ‘colonial’ tents for holiday use with associated drainage works and car parking on a field on his farm. The tents would be operated by Lantern and Larks which specialises in providing “canvas retreats with practical features and chic finesse” sited in “peaceful corners of private land”. Lantern and Larks already operate 3 sites in the UK – in Lancashire, Rutland and Suffolk – and promote ‘glamping’ or camping without its discomforts. Tents are described on the company’s website as spacious with wood floors, hot showers, separate WCs, wood burning stoves and standard furniture – including solid pine beds with mattresses and duvets.
Local residents registered strong objections to the scheme, citing the increase in traffic and consequent danger in very narrow country lanes used by heavy farm machinery, the loss of prime agricultural land and the considerable impact of noise and light pollution from the development on the tranquility of the location and on the those living nearby. The detrimental effect on the value of properties was also raised as an issue.
However, Stawley Parish Council supported the application as a way to “assist farm diversification and the rural economy.” John Ker argued that the proposal allowed him to generate valuable alternative income for a small farm, that the site would still be used for agriculture and visitors to the site would generate cleaning and maintenance jobs and provide trade for isolated pubs.
Other individual supporters of the scheme suggested that the potential for noise pollution had been overstated and that the site was not visible from neighbouring or distant properties. It was also argued that there was a need for the farm to find other ways of existing as a viable economic unit and that any increase in visitors would be a boost for the local economy.
Taunton Deane Borough Council’s Senior Planning Liaison Officer, Sean Good, approved the application – subject to a number of conditions – stating that the impact of traffic would be minimal, provision for car parking and access had been included in the plans and that, as a screened site without electricity, noise and light would not cause pollution or disturbance.
The first ‘glamping’ site in the South West is now expected to open for business next Easter, closing for the winter at the end of October when the tents will remain but ‘mothballed’.