PLANS for a “luxury glamping” resort in woods near East Anstey have been refused by North Devon Council.
The plans, for 20 tents and an educational hub to be erected in Barton Wood, were described as “luxurious” by planning officer Helen Smith in a verbal report to the council’s planning committee this morning.
She outlined how the plan, which was originally for 40 tents, was cut back after Devon County Council’s Highways department expressed concerns about access to the site.
Having heard from Mrs Smith councillors were then able to hear the views of several locals, who unanimously opposed the plans.
It was also able to hear from applicant Andrew Chinneck, who sat on the Countryside Commission and acted as a school governor. He said the plans were intended to provide educational opportunities.
John Sparrow, who lives at Dunsley Mill, said he believed planning policy was clear.
“Proposals for new caravan or camping sites should be considered only where there’s a proven demand for it, where it won’t harm the environment and where there’ll be limited impact on the highway,” he said.
“This fails on all three counts.”
Angela Bidlake told the committee: “It is unsustainable and we and our children will pay the price.
“East Anstey borders West Somerset and Mid-Devon and the applicant is from South Devon. All the money made here will leave the area.”
Farmer John Rennison, of Lower Radnidge farm, said: “We enjoy the peace, tranquillity and wildlife but this plan would destroy all of this.
“There will be a recreation area just a few yards from my bedroom.”
People also raised fears about stock worrying, the environmental impact and worries that coniferous trees which would be set in clear space would come down in high winds.
But Mr Chinneck disputed many of those claims.
“I was born in Barnstaple, lived in South Molton and am very much a Devon man,” he said.
“We’ve looked at woodlands from Yorkshire to Cornwall and this one is almost unique in being perfect for this purpose.”
He claimed by felling some of the wood’s coniferous trees he would be “taking out a blot on the landscape and diversify and improve the woodland”.
“We can give country skills to people, meet local employment needs and encourage all to gain a greater appreciation of English woodland.”
Local ward member Jeremy Yabsley proposed the plans be refused, while Jasmine Chesters moved it be approved subject to conditions highways work, including the installation of passing places, before work on the rest of the site began.
Mrs Chesters’ amendment fell while Mr Yabsley’s motion passed by six votes to three.