Proposals to build two holiday lets at a farm near Beckley have been given the go-ahead by Rother planners.
At a meeting of Rother District Council’s planning committee on Thursday (July 18), an application was approved for the construction of two timber buildings at Woodgate Farm in Church Lane.
In making their decision, councillors heard how the buildings are to be used as holiday lets during the summer, but could also be used as studios and workshops for ‘wellness treatment courses’ when not being let out.
This proposed use led to some concerns being voiced by ward councillor Martin Mooney (Con, Northern Rother). He said: “The papers before you talk about eight people in total generating traffic [but] there could be more. That is my concern.
“There will be a lot of traffic here. It is going to be a viable business in the countryside and we are dealing with an Area of Outstanding Beauty.
“That is my concern, that a lot of traffic will be generated. More than shown in the report.”
Several committee members, however, said they did not share these views, including the council’s cabinet member for tourism Deidre Earl-Williams.
Cllr Earl-Williams (Ind, Bexhill Collington) said: “Speaking with my tourism hat on here for a moment, I think we should support this application because we need to have more accommodation in the area for tourists.
“I’m sorry Martin, but I do think it is quite suitable and I think we should accept the officer’s recommendation.”
Similar views were put forward by Cllr Susan Prochak (Lib Dem, Robertsbridge), who said: “Just because we have this wonderful AONB doesn’t mean we can’t have places which are effectively businesses.
“I have been on retreats and they usually choose very beautiful places. They’ll hardly be getting drunk in a hot tub afterwards, it is not that sort of activity.”
Other concerns, however, were raised about the long-term use of the buildings – with Cllr Mary Barnes (Con, Hurst Green and Ticehurst) raising fears about them potentially becoming private homes should the holiday lets prove not to be economically viable.
But officers said the use of the building would be safeguarded by both planning conditions and a legal agreement. As a result any change of use would require fresh planning consent to be legal.
Ultimately the committee considered the proposals to be acceptable, approving the application 12 votes to one.
According to planning documents, the proposed buildings are to be grouped together in a paddock area to the south east of the main farm building.
One is be a two-bedroom building, while the other four-bedroom longhouse.