Plan for pair of lakeside ‘leisure arks’ for holidaymakers on farm near Honiton is withdrawn

Proposals for a pair of lakeside ‘leisure arks’ for holidaymakers on farmland near Honiton have been shelved – after they faced being refused by planning chiefs.

Two unusual accommodation units – which would have been on wheels – and a portable loo were earmarked for a plot of 160-acre Marles Farm in Awliscombe.

However, the scheme was withdrawn this week.

The plans were set to be decided on by East Devon District Council’s (EDDC) development management committee on September 3 – with officers advising members to reject them.

This is despite parish representatives being fully in support and saying: “This is exactly the sort of diversification that agricultural businesses in our area need.”

Applicants Mr and Mrs D Maynard had asked for a change of use for a plot of agricultural land so the mobile leisure arks could ‘support the existing tourism business on the farm’.

It currently boasts three hard-standing areas for up to five caravans and 10 tents from March to November.

“This has worked well and the applicants are looking to expand this side of the business further by offering two leisure arks on the farm with the opportunity for these guests to stay in a rural location, but with the opportunity to use the adjoining lake for fishing and within close proximity to the local amenities an Awliscombe and Honiton,” stated the plans.

The timber structures, measuring 2.4m by 4.8m, would have each sported a double bed, fold-up table and a surrounding outside area.

“The existing business at Marles Farm would work well alongside the two mobile leisure arks proposed and would help sustain and diversify the existing agricultural business further.

“The applicants have made enquiries into other businesses that have looked at these arks and they do seem to be very popular,” said the application.

Recommending refusal, an EDDC officer said in a report to the development management committee: “Issues with the application revolve around the principle of development and the visual impact of the scheme.

“The parcel of agricultural land that the development relates is particularly visible from public viewpoints along the Buckerell Footpath to the south-west.”

The officer said the two arks, proposed hardstanding for parking and the portable loo would be visible from the footpath and ‘would appear as an intrusion into a largely undeveloped field’.

“The visual impact of the development is deemed unacceptable,” they added.

“The siting of the arks in such a prominent part of the site, in addition to the hardstanding, parking of cars and removal of hedgerow is considered visually intrusive and harmful to the surrounding landscape.”

The recommendation was made despite the plans being fully endorsed by Awliscombe Parish Council, which said: “The addition of these two mobile leisure arks will complement the rural business of Marles Farm.

“This is exactly the sort of diversification that agricultural businesses in our area need.”

District council ward member Councillor David Key said he was ‘disgusted’ with the recommendation and ‘fully supported’ the application.

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