A COUPLE wishing to start a small farming enterprise have been refused permission to develop their land on the outskirts of Leek.
Members of Staffordshire Moorlands District Council planning applications committee turned down an application to erect an agricultural building and stable block, an access track and yard area, along with the change of use from agriculture to a mixed agricultural/ equestrian, on land at Gypsy Hollow, Thorncross Farm, Thorncliffe Road, Leek.
However, a report to councillors said that the applicants already have an unauthorised track at the site, leading to an existing stable and other building.
These were the subject of two enforcement notices for which the period of compliance had lapsed.
Speaking at a planning meeting Sue Howard, representing Tittesworth Parish Council, said: “The parish council has concern over these buildings. They feel it is a beauty spot and unspoilt. Access is by a narrow road which is unsuitable for horse boxes.
“It is out of proportion to build on such a small parcel of land.
“This is a special site and the countryside is precious. If approved others could follow.”
Local resident Karen Barker said: “The land is under five acres. Two separate buildings are proposed, which would be prominent and intrusive.
“These are hobby activities and will not provide a profit, so it cannot be classed as agricultural.
“Therefore it is not a sustainable business.” Speaking on behalf of local residents, planning consultant Michael Sutcliffe said: “This is not a farming enterprise. Five acres is to small to be self-sufficient. It will have an impact on a special landscape area.”
However, Ken Wainman, agent for the applicants Mr and Mrs Robinson, said there was a genuine need for the buildings.
He said: “The council’s agricultural consultant has stated that there is sufficient grazing and the site, which will has been chosen after meetings with officers, will have less impact.
“It would be sited into the ground and a hedge planted to keep it in character with the area.
“The applicant intends to establish a small farming enterprise.”
Councillor Mike Worthington said: “It seems people think they can buy half an acre of land and put up stables without planning permission. This is sending out the wrong message.”
Councillor Ron Locker said the special landscape of the area must be adhered to. He said: “We should not consider approval when two enforcement notices are in force. We must refuse and ensure enforcement is carried out. This is something people do not want to see.”
Councillor John Fisher added: “This should be rejected and rigorous action taken to remove the illegal clutter.”
Councillors voted by 10 votes to one to refuse permission.