A PARISH council is opposing a planning application to change the use of holiday units to an equestrian centre at a site adjacent to an area where a large scale tourist development is proposed.
In 2010 Laver Leisure bought the former Sibelco quarry near Whiston. The works have now been demolished and long-term plans for the site include building holiday lodges and turning the area into an outdoor recreational pursuits complex.
The sale also incorporated the adjacent 60-acre Crowtrees Farm, which has been occupied by Chris and Diane Bickle for the last 40 years and is now the subject of the new planning application.
Speaking at last week's meeting of Kingsley Parish Council, Mrs Bickle said: "We have been tenants at Crowtrees for 40 years and my family before that. The agreement we have gives us secure tenure.
"Indeed it should give us succession unless planning or change of use is granted. We feel this is the latest attempt to give us notice to quit.
"With our previous landlord's full permission, and Government backing, we diversified part of our farming enterprise into bed and breakfast, to help supplement the farm income, just like many farms have.
"The planning application states we are a guest house. We are not, as a guest house provides small hotel facilities
"The application states that we have all the facilities including a menage, stables, and tack room. It is obvious to anyone who visits us that we do not.
"The change of use is for the whole 60 acres. This would give consent to use valuable agricultural land for any leisure, sporting or recreational use."
A supporting letter to planners submitted by Hilary Brett of HOW Planning of Manchester said: "The site currently comprises a menage, stables, farmhouse, converted barns, tack room, farm building and grassland already used for grazing.
"A total of eight bed and breakfast accommodation is provided on site. The stables are currently empty and the site has 16 car parking spaces.
"There would be no internal or external alteration to the existing buildings and the application seeks to secure planning permission for the addition of an equestrian centre use which would provide facilities for local people and guests at the existing bed and breakfast."
Councillor Ken Unwin said: "There are serious concerns about Laver Leisure developingCrowtree Farm. Firstly there seem to be some serious inaccuracies in the application. Secondly there are highway issues as access to the site would have to be via Carr Bank or Blakeley Lane, both of which are unsuitable, or Whiston Eaves Lane which has a weight restriction on part of it.
"Overall the site is not suitable for an equestrian centre."
Councillor David Fowler said the parish council should send a letter to the district council planning department objecting to the proposals.
He said: "There are no bridal paths and horses would have to use the narrow roads."
Miss Brett told the Post & Times: "We have had talks about the use of the site and councillors will visit the premises. An additional report will be made for the planning committee."
The application is set to go before the planning committee within the next eight weeks.