A Brent Knoll man’s bid to open a new glamping site has been turned down by the Planning Inspectorate.
Mark Warren currently rents out the Shepherd’s Hut, within Elm View Farm in Brent Knoll to holidaymakers through AirBnB.
To cope with rising demand, Mr Warren applied in August 2021 to provide a dozen glamping pitches on fields off Middle Street, as well as a yurt, sculpture trail and up to 100 solar panels.
Sedgemoor District Council refused the plans in late March 2022, prompting Mr Warren to lodge a formal appeal with the Planning Inspectorate.
But in a new ruling announced on the Planning Inspectorate’s website, an inspector has now upheld the council’s original refusal, arguing that the camp site would put a strain on the local road network and could harm protected species.
Access to the site would be from Middle Street on the eastern side of the line, a few hundred years from Mr Warren’s farm.
The site would have comprised up to 12 glamping pitches on the field, along with a communal yurt, a nature and sculpture trail, a birdwatching hide near the existing pond, a wildflower meadow with native hedgerows at its edge, and between 80 and 100 solar panels to provide power to the whole site.
The inspector visited the site on September 13 and published his decision on the Planning Inspectorate’s website following written representations from various interested parties.
He said the traffic movements generated by the site – both by campers and potentially visits from local schools – would be “significantly greater than that which arises from the current use.”
He continues: “The appellant anticipates that the majority of guests would travel by private motor vehicle, but this in itself would be of concern as accessing the site would necessitate the use of a narrow, single-carriageway lane that has no formal passing places.”
“There would only be a few opportunities for users of the highway to manoeuvre off the carriageway so as to avoid conflict, and the extensive distances between these opportunities would necessitate drivers having to reverse for what could be long distances so as to be able to pass.”
“There are also a number of sharp bends along the lane, the effect of which is to significantly reduce visibility and thereby increase the potential for conflict.”
“Even with cautious behaviour, the substantial increase in the number of movements arising from the proposal would be of concern given the nature of the junction and its constraints.”
Mr Evans said he could not be certain of how the camp-site would impact protected species, noting that “no assessment” had been carried out by Mr Warren.
He also ruled that the development failed the council’s sequential test – meaning that if there is a more appropriate site for this store which has a lower flood risk, it should be built there instead.
He said: “The appellant acknowledges that the site is in a flood risk area, albeit considers the risks to be exaggerated. Neither other buildings nor that the appellant owns the site negate the need to undertake a sequential test, which includes an assessment of whether any other sites are available as alternatives.”
“An assessment of reasonably available land is not restricted to that which is owned by the appellant, and in this case, the appellant has provided no assessment of other reasonable sites. Given this, the scheme fails to satisfy the sequential test.”
The inspectorate concluded that the camp-site would provide “limited benefits” to the local economy including job creation, and that these benefits “would not outweigh” the risk associated with flooding and road safety, noted the Local Democracy Reporting Service.