Glamping and camping proposal for Fineshade

3 September 2021 - Application refused

The planning officers of the new North Northamptonshire Council have refused the latest planning application for Change of Use to the fields at Top Lodge. So strong was the case for rejection that officers ruled it did not even need to go to committee and gave four reasons for their decision.

  1. The proposal would result in visual harm to the character and appearance of the locality and wider landscape.

  2. The proposed development is not compatible with the nature conservation interests for which the application site is designated as a Local Wildlife Site.

  3. There would be harm to the important agricultural setting of the Grade II listed Top Lodge Farmhouse which contributes to its historic significance.

  4. Safe and convenient access to the site is not possible given the hazards at the present junction of Top Lodge Road and the A43 and there are concerns about intensification of use of Top Lodge Road itself, given the insufficient carriageway width and lack of footway provision.

You can download the full decision notice on the council's planning website or by clicking here ....

 

In early spring 2021 yet another planning application appeared for the meadow in front of Top Lodge.  This one proposed 15 glamping pods, an unspecified number of camping pitches, a car park apparently with 21 spaces and a single static caravan for an on-site warden.  And it was right in front of a Grade II listed building. But, most importantly, this would provide "Change of Use" for the meadow making further tent or caravan development much easier.

This is typical of applications that are the thin end of a wedge towards a company's real aim: in this case a huge complex of holiday or residential accommodation at Top Lodge. It's known as "planning mission creep". This application tries to exploit loopholes in legislation to build accommodation in beautiful open countryside.

Let's not be hoodwinked: this was a property company desperately trying to get a foot in the door to exploit Fineshade, just as they have at other similar sites

About the plan

Please click here to see the full planning application on the council's planning portal.  It is number NE/21/00388/FUL.

This was the 5th application made by the owners of the field - all the others had been unsuccessful.

This one was lodged with the former East Northants Council but was decided by the new unitary authority of North Northamptonshire. There is a new Planning Committee made up of councillors who would not necessarily know about the history of previous applications. We needed to make sure they knew the strength of local opposition.

The important details are in the Planning Statement that may be downloaded here. Large file - 9.3 Mb)

126 friends objected  

Many were short, heart-felt objections focussing on a single issue that meant a lot to the writer - these were very effective indeed. Some of the issues are listed in orange boxes below. It took less than 5 minutes to make an objection and the blue arrow gave step-by-step instructions of how to do it

Site plan.JPG
Site plan key.JPG

The map shows the existing Top Lodge buildings (greyish tones, top centre) 

The 15 glamping pods are shown as brown rectangles

What the plan did not make clear was the sloping nature of the ground which in places is quite steep. This is particularly true for the carpark as well as the space designated for tent camping.

What would the buildings look like?

The application did not specify or provide images but it seemed likely that the pods would be similar to those shown on the right and the static caravan as depicted in a previous application.

Static carvans elevations.JPG
1 pod.JPG
The meadow where development was proposed

Field at Top Lodge  (potential LGS) (1).

This is the field where the camping and glamping would take place, with the entrance on the immediate right

The company behind this application,
Countrywide Park Homes

The application came from Mrs Donna Barney who, with her husband Tony Barney, are the Directors of Countrywide Park Homes Ltd. 

Download and read the 12-page Objection from the Duddington-with-Fineshade Parish Council
Reasons why we fought this proposal
It will generate many extra vehicle movements along a single track road that is already well past capacity
Extra traffic will increase the dangers at the turning to Top Lodge from the A43
It is acknowledged as a very important site for reptiles, particularly the locally rare Adder. Such a site is no place to encourage camping.
Barbecues create real threat of wild-fires in the woods
NO shops, facilities or public transport options within easy walking distance make this development unsustainable
There is only one access route for emergency vehicles
The proposed carpark is not large enough to accommodate the likely number of vehicles, leading to parking on the grass or outside the site
The designated camping area is on a slope and tents will certainly creep towards the more level areas
Vehicle access to the site will create a further hazard for  pedestrians and cyclists at what is already a dangerous junction
This is new development in a particularly prominent and important area of open countryside.
Why is it necessary when there are so many existing camp sites nearby?
This application is just the thin end of a wedge towards the company's real aim of a huge complex of holiday or residential accommodation at Top Lodge. It's "planning mission creep"
Lighting at night is unspecified - it could be either intrusive or unsafe
The view across the field from the footpaths around the site will be ruined by a static caravan, parked cars, tents and campervans
NO details about water supply, electricity, or  how rubbish will be stored and removed
A caravan, carpark, new roadway, glamping pods, tents and lighting will adversely affect the setting of the Grade-II-listed building
Where are the toilets and showers?
Wildlife surveys are incomplete and totally out of date.
Rubbish, noise, smells and lighting will adversely affect residents and visitors alike
How to take the glamour out of glamping? Pods in a wet, shaded, sloping corner of a field without any facilities
The number of jobs created by the site is unspecified in the application.  It's probably just one - the warden
Security on site for those glamping and camping is not specified
The corner of the field is very steep and will require major earth works in order to construct the road and car park
Tenting and glamping will totally change the character of Top Lodge