Camping plan refused amid committee criticism

The owner of a campsite has been criticised for flouting planning refusal to increase the number of tent pitches and put up “garden shed” style glamping pods.

Shropshire Council's planning committee rejected the proposal
Shropshire Council's planning committee rejected the proposal

Oaklands Leisure Campsite and Fishery, just outside Harton in the Shropshire Hills Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, has been refused retrospective permission to expand after Shropshire Council’s southern planning committee rejected the recommendation of planning officers’ to approve the scheme.

The committee heard neighbours of the campsite had complained of littering, fireworks scaring horses, car accidents involving holidaymakers, and people climbing into nearby fields to chase animals.

Concerns over the impact of the expansion on nearby ecological assets led to a similar application being refused in 2018, but both Shropshire Wildlife Trust and the council’s ecologist were satisfied with a new biodiversity management plan and did not object to the latest application.

The applicant had been seeking retrospective approval to increase the number of pitches from 30 to 50 and the addition of eight glamping huts and a toilet and shower block.

A statement read to the meeting from the parish council said the campsite owner had “blatantly disregarded” the refusal of his previous application.

Councillor Cecilia Motley, who represents the Corvedale division in which the campsite sits, said: “It seems clear that the applicant has continued to expand the site at Oaklands by introducing more structures and pitches on-site in contravention of the 2018 refusal.

“There is a danger of further deterioration to the sensitive area of the site and its impact on the AONB if expansion is allowed to continue beyond agreed numbers, with even more intensive use of the site.

“Shropshire Council has declared a climate emergency and that surely behoves the council to ensure that any site such as this one in a sensitive location like the AONB respects the special nature of its surroundings and does not encourage or introduce activity which could be seen to be damaging to local ecosystems.

“I don’t believe that a biodiversity management plan will protect this site from such exploitation.”

A statement was also read to the committee from the applicant’s agent Paul Madeley, from Madeleys Chartered Surveyors. He said the applicant had added the temporary toilets to the site as a result of “recent unprecedented demand” which had brought “significant economic benefits” to the area, and had no intention to expand the site even more in the future.

Committee members agreed that they could not support the application.

Councillor Claire Wild said: “I think the cumulative impact of having 50 tents and glamping units in an area like that would be horrendous for the local community.

“I don’t think we should be allowing and encouraging people to ride roughshod over our rural communities and get away with doing what they like.”

Councillor Nigel Hartin said: “I was somewhat surprised at the apparent quality of the pods being proposed, they look like standard garden sheds to me.

“This is an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty. If we are going to allow something like this we should only be allowing those applications that show the highest possible respect for the environment and from looking at the photos it doesn’t appear to be one of those applications.”

Seven members voted to refuse the application and there was one abstention.

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