Wiltshire Publications

Councillors cry foul over White Horse area campsite plans

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WESTBURY town councillors have spoken out about repeated planning applications for a camping and touring caravan site at Long River Farm in Newtown, saying the applicant is “playing the system.” 

Long River Farm’s previous attempts to turn the area into a camping site were met with concerns by Westbury Town Council over the area becoming a ‘mini-enterprise’, which led to the applicant withdrawing their plans.  

The owners have since come back to Wiltshire Council claiming that the site has been used for leisure for years and that retrospective planning permission should be granted in the form of a certificate of lawfulness, whereby planning permission is no longer needed due to the site being in continuous use for ten years. 

At a meeting of Westbury Town Council’s highways, planning and development committee, held on 20th December, cllr Mike Sutton said, “There’s a history with this applicant. Now they are proposing that the site has been there so long now it should be considered as already developed. 

“This committee wrote to Wiltshire Council months ago now, saying that this applicant has a history of putting in applications, waiting for the objections and saying ‘Not to worry, we will withdraw the application’ – they then submit a new application but don’t take down what they previously put up [without planning permission]. When they get complaints, they then send another application in to start the process again. We’ve also never got a reply from the applicant.” 

Cllr Gordon King added, “This is quite clearly an applicant playing the system. They have a planning application that is already in the system and now they’ve come forward with a certificate of lawfulness as seemingly a way of getting around the planning application without first withdrawing it, which is a shame really – I don’t think that’s the right way to go about things. 

“For a certificate of lawfulness to be fairly agreed, then there should have been evidence for use of the land for ten years or more. I can attest (having looked at the red lines [boundary]) that the certificate of lawfulness is outside the red lines and after speaking to those that live nearby, there is no such use of that property in that site for which the applicant claims. There is no basis for the certificate, and the planning officer said the exact same thing to me.” 

 Councillors agreed to submit their objections to Wiltshire Council, saying there is no evidence that the site has been used for camping for the past ten years.

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