Formal settlement for longer tenting season at Eweleaze Farm

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The formal agreement for an extended camping season at Eweleaze Farm in Osmington has been signed by Dorset Council.

The approval, which stems from a decision made at a planning meeting in July, is subject to conditions for access to the site and management of the area.

It allows camping for up to 42 days ending on the bank holiday Monday at the end of August, provided the site operator meets a number of conditions.

These include improved off-highway access and management plans to be agreed with Council officials for Transport Flows, Biodiversity and Solid Waste and Wastewater Management, all of which are expected to be finalized before the start of the coming season.

The conditions only apply to tents, mobile homes or caravans are not allowed.

Until the July decision, use of the site was limited to “temporary” use of 28 days per year, although government legislation doubled this during the Covid peak period.

The longer approval of 42 days, site owner Peter Broatch said, will help support eight full-time and 118 part-time positions.

The proposal drew dozens of pros and cons letters, including from the Weymouth Civic Society, which said extended use near the Area of ​​Outstanding Natural Beauty and the Jurassic Coast World Heritage Site would be “totally inappropriate in this open rural landscape of such important landscape value.”

The Chair of the Society’s Planning and Environment Committee, Pauline Crump, said: “We see no justification at all for a regular extension (28 days). We believe that widespread use of this large expanse of land for camping for a longer period than the normal duration would cause severe damage to this immediate area and set an undesirable precedent for the entire coast.”

Similar views were expressed by Osmington Parish Council and many of the objections.

Supporters, who mostly live outside the area, wrote to let Dorset Council know how well run the site is, allowing families to enjoy a relatively cheap holiday in a beautiful area, bringing revenue to businesses in the area.

Documents with the application suggest the site had more than 800 visitors in 2021, who Mr Broatch said were likely to spend £15-20 a day each, although many object to the figures, with some claiming that local economy sees little benefit -Site facilities encourage visitors to stay on the farm.

Key terms of the 42-day permit include road access improvements along a track branching off the main road, designed to facilitate the flow of vehicles in and out of the site without creating queues.

A planning consultant acting for Mr Broatch claimed that the extra two weeks would help meet demand as the longer use would have a limited impact on the landscape and potentially reduce the number of visitors in the mid-summer peak period and effectively the same number would spread out over a longer period of time.

The farm buildings on site are used as shops and restaurant during the camping season, with the site offering composting toilets, solar showers, a laundry service and bike hire, all of which are cleared away at the end of the season.

Owermoigne Councilor Nick Ireland says the conditions should largely address local site concerns as the law allows 28-day camping: “My opinion of the Planning Committee, which is of course on file, is that … by imposing the permit accompanying Conditions that would apply for the full six weeks mostly address the concerns of a minority of locals about the established 28-day operation, which they can’t do anything about, ie it imposes conditions that didn’t exist before and didn’t exist .”