LITTON CHENEY PARISH COUNCIL
Minutes of the online
virtual extraordinary meeting of Litton Cheney Parish Council
held on Tuesday 13 October 2020
Present: Kathryn Brooks, John Firrell; Andy King; Andrew Price; Maggie Walsh (Clerk). Also in attendance: W Wallis (Planning Agent), B Roman (Applicant’s representative), Cllr Mark Roberts and 4 local residents
3. To consider planning application WD/D/20/001114 Change of use of agricultural land to caravan and camping site. Siting of a mobile home for permanent residential occupation by site manager. Construction of hardcore access track for caravans and parking. Construction of small fish "stocking lake" (retrospective). Fishing Lake at Charity Farm, Litton Lane
Cllr Brooks introduced the application: when the PC met in July, it objected to this application due to the lack of information provided about the proposed scale of operation or numbers of pitches involved. Since then, an amended description had been agreed that reflected more accurately what was proposed on the site. The application before the PC was for up to 30 caravans and tents in total from 1 April to 31 October and up to 10 caravans and tents in total from 1 November to 31 March. The site facilities were described as portaloos and chemical disposal facilities. There were no showers and no rubbish collections. The AONB had been consulted but had not yet responded. DC had not received traffic or landscape assessments. Highways had lodged no objections. Cllr Brooks invited the agent to speak.
Mr Wallis said that the camp site had been operating since July’s meeting, often at full capacity, and he believed there had been minimal impact from it. He was not aware of any traffic problems arising from use of the site. A revised application description had since been agreed with the case officer. Highways had been reconsulted and raised no objection. The landlord of the PH supported the application. The proposal therefore brought benefits to both the farm, the wider community and brought jobs to the rural economy. National and local planning policies supported ventures that support employment. The applicant was keen to minimise visual impact from the site and planting of a hedge and trees was proposed on the eastern boundary and the northern boundary if required. There needed to be enough pitches for the business to be viable.
Cllr Firrell invited others attending to speak:
· A local resident had originally objected to the application but withdrew his objection in light of additional information provided and having spoken with the landlord of the PH. His comments were online. He wished to add that the original application was incomplete/inaccurate and felt this reflected badly on both the Local Planning Authority (LPA) and applicant. Interested parties now had little time to respond to the consultation.
· A manager of the campsite appreciated the concerns expressed at the July meeting. Custom arising from the campsite had meant the landlord of the PH had been able to retain staff with a large proportion of its custom generated by the campsite. Visitors understood the site had portaloos and no showers. Feedback had been very good and the site had a 9.4 rating on the online booking portal.
Mr Wallis / the applicant’s representatives provided the following clarification in response to questions about the application:
· The application was still technically retrospective but with amended wording
· The mobile home would not be used all the time and would only be used by those involved in day-to-date management of the site. It would mostly be used at weekends and empty during the week. In practice it would be empty for most of the winter. There would be no other residential use of any type. The Mobile home had no electricity. The agent had agreed the mobile home would be for occasional use: the term “permanent residential occupation” had been applied by the LPA.
· A mobile home was required because the current site managers had a child and, when required on site, their working day started at 7am and lasted until 11pm. A caravan had proved impractical. Space was also required for paperwork/ administration.
· The café operating from the site over the summer did not require planning permission. At July’s meeting, Mr Wallis had said it would operate for 28 days. However, this planning restriction had changed during its period of operation and accordingly it had operated for 56 days. It had now ceased.
· The primary use of the lake was for fishing. The stock lake was already in use to breed fish. Fishing would take priority over any other leisure use.
· The need for a licence was known and would be addressed but planning permission was required first. The licence application would be dealt with by the Licensing Committee and this was entirely separate process from the planning process.
Parish Councillors discussed the application:
Cllrs Firrell, King, Price and Spurrier had visited the site the previous day where it had been confirmed that the majority of bookings were made online – very few turned up unannounced. The visit had been most informative and Parish Councillors were grateful to the applicant’s agents.
Cllr King had no objection providing the site was well monitored and the maximum number of pitches and season of operation were not exceeded. He was not aware of any significant impact on traffic during the summer.
Cllr Price said the site was attractive and had been popular with visitors through the summer – often full to capacity. It has benefited the farm and the landlord of the PH. There was a good case for approving the application on the basis of increasing tourist accommodation and farm diversification. However, local planning policies are clear this has to be done in the right place and this site is in the AONB and served by a network of rural roads. The site itself was visible from many places around the valley but was fairly well screened when close up, apart from the east side: the north side could also be improved. The village had seen a significant increase in traffic throughout the summer with traffic using not just the Litton lakes but also other sites in the Bride Valley. Nevertheless, the roads had adequate capacity. There had been recent concern locally about the speed of traffic through the village. Use of the location for camping represented a departure from typical land use in the area but was something that local policies lend support to. The LPA needed to find a balance between the benefits of the campsite and the impact it had on traffic and the AONB. The site was well run and he would like to support it providing:
· levels were held to no more than the number of pitches stated (i.e. 30 in summer and 10 in winter);
· there was early implementation of additional landscaping on the north and east sides of the site;
· in accordance with DC policies, legal undertakings tied the existence of the campsite to the parent farm; and
· residential use of the mobile home was tied to the management of the campsite, with the mobile home to be removed should the campsite cease to operate.
Cllr Price did however have some concerns about the suitability of some roads for caravans and felt it was worth exploring the merits of a routing agreement for caravans.
Cllr Roberts observed that It had been an extraordinary year for traffic and all villages in the Bride Valley had experienced issues with increased traffic and inconsiderate parking during the summer.
Cllr Brooks echoed Cllr Price’s comments. There had definitely been an increase in traffic and Cllr Brooks had observed a substantial number of vehicles entering the site. The PC had estimated the number of additional vehicle trips generated by the site could be a significant addition to pre-existing traffic levels, but not in terms of overall road capacity. It was however the type of vehicle rather than the number that might cause problems if unchecked. The PC had observed up to 40 pitches in use at intervals during the summer: this was too much and the site should be restricted to no more than 30. Cllr Brooks was concerned by use of the term “mobile home for permanent use” in the application description, as this implied someone would reside there all year round.
Cllr Firrell also supported the application subject to appropriate conditions.
Cllr King proposed that the PC withdraw its previous objection and SUPPORT the planning application subject to the LPA imposing conditions relating to:
1. restricting the number of pitches to a combination of up to 10 caravans or tents in total from 1 November to 31 March and up to 30 caravans and tents in total from 1 April to 31 October.
2. completion of appropriate landscaping to the northern and eastern boundaries of the site as quickly as possible during the earliest planting season
And, in accordance with local planning policy, requiring the undertaking of legal agreements to
3. tie the diversified business (in this case the campsite) to the parent farm (Charity Farm)
4. restrict occupation of the mobile home to residential use for purposes of site management only and require removal of the mobile home should the campsite cease to operate.
Cllr Price proposed additional wording asking the LPA to explore with highways the appropriateness of some access routes into the site by caravans and the scope for a written routing agreement.
These proposals were seconded by Cllr Firrell and supported unanimously. As suggested by the LPA, the PC would await the response of the AONB before submitting its comments. The deadline had been extended accordingly.
4. Meeting closed