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Campsite at farm in battle to prove new caravans are lawful

PUBLISHED: 20:50 13 March 2019 | UPDATED: 08:39 14 March 2019

Puddledock Farm near Great Hockham. Picture: Conor Matchett

Puddledock Farm near Great Hockham. Picture: Conor Matchett

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A Norfolk campsite is fighting to prove new mobile homes built on its grounds do not require relevant planning permission.

Puddledock Farm near Great Hockham. Picture: Conor MatchettPuddledock Farm near Great Hockham. Picture: Conor Matchett

Puddledock Farm near Great Hockham had its application for lawful use of its land for the construction of new static caravans refused by Breckland District Council in December 2017.

Following an appeal, the case was heard at a public planning inquiry today in Dereham.

If the appeal fails, the farm, owned by Plum Tree Country Park Limited, could face a raft of potential sanctions through council enforcement action.

The hearing heard from local residents and councillors about the changes of the site, with the parish clerk of Great Hockham parish council, David Childerhouse, claiming three new static caravans have already been installed on the site.

Councillor Philip Cowen said in his 16 years representing the area, the site has until very recently only been used by touring caravans and camping.

Speaking at the appeal, the solicitor for the farm, Michael Rudd, argued a certificate of lawful use issued in 2006 allowing the land to be used as a “caravan and camping site”, gave the owners the ability to build static caravans and mobile homes on the site.

The inquiry heard from the land’s agent, Ben Eiser, who said the certificate provided a broad definition of caravan with static caravans, regardless of usage, included in the definition.

However, William Upton speaking on behalf of Breckland, argued the 2006 document did not allow for people to use caravans for permanent residential use.

He added anyone doing so on the land would mean there had been an unlawful material change of use on the land without planning permission.

The inquiry also heard from the council’s witness, Neil Langley, who claimed 2010 planning permission on part of the farm meant the 2006 certificate was no longer in place.

If the council are deemed to be correct by the planning inspector, it could see the farm be subject to enforcement procedures.

Closing statements from each party’s lawyers will be heard on Thursday morning following a site visit by the inspector, with a decision to be published online in the coming weeks.

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