Controversy over proposed campsite in Gressenhall

An application for shepherd huts and a camping area on a large field in Gressenhall, has been reject

An application for shepherd huts and a camping area on a large field in Gressenhall, has been rejected by the parish council. At the site are (from left) Averil George, Kathy Wilcox and Olga Knight. Picture: Ian Burt - Credit: Archant

A planning application for a new camp site in Gressenhall may struggle to move forward after the parish council refused to give its support.

The application submitted to Breckland District Council in November proposes building a large country house with a camping area and disabled camping pods.

The applicant states in planning documents that it 'will provide a high grade camping and leisure facility that will help serve and sustain the local economy with tourist income being brought into the area.'

It has been backed by a number of residents, who say that such a development would be an asset to the area and provide support to local businesses.

But when it was discussed at a parish council meeting in January, councillors objected to it because it goes against policy due to it being agricultural land and located outside of the settlement boundary.

The objection is a major blow to the applicants and could significantly impact their chances of gaining approval when it is heard by Breckland Council.

Planning agent Olga Knight has criticised the councillors decision, alleging that they are resistant to new developments. She said that the decision seemed to have been made before it was discussed.

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'It was a foregone conclusion and since that meeting all the talk around the village is how unfair it was,' she said.

Ms Knight also claimed that the minutes released after the meeting did not accurately reflect the discussions, prompting councillors to agree to make amendments during a meeting on February 9.

They agreed to include two additional comments from the public, one for and one against, which had previously been omitted.

Council chairman John Reader defended the council's stance and said the application is the third to be submitted by the applicant in the past 12 months and the previous two were also not given support.

'We are not anti-business and not anti-facilities for disabled,' he said. 'I have every sympathy for the couple who bought this land with view of starting a business but as a parish council we need to be careful not to set a precedent of approving developments in areas that are outside of the boundary.

'Some argue the camp site will support the local shop and pub and there may be some support, but it won't be a deal breaker on them remaining open.'