Planning committee refuse controversial Horsley farming plans

12:00pm Saturday 21st June 2014

By SNJ Reporter

CONTROVERSIAL plans for a new agricultural dwelling in Horsley were unanimously refused by the Stroud Development Control Committee.

Mr Bernie Courts, alongside wife Fadia Courts, had grand plans to extend their current 9 acre home site into a 25 acre agricultural dwelling by securing a lease from Mr Courts’ employers Ruskin Mill Trust.

Plans for the development included the ownership of poultry, sheep, pigs and cattle as well as continuing to grow vegetables and breed turkey.

The pair’s business development plans promised to make a large profit on the investment through the sale of produce developed, as well as running cookery and gardening courses. Case Officer Ian Pople recommended the plans, despite many local letters of complaint.

However, the application for the luxurious property was unanimously refused at the committee meeting on Tuesday, May 17.

Councillors and committee members were wholly unconvinced by Mr Courts’ plans and questioned whether he would be able to make the projected profits. The fact he was proposing to launch into such a huge project without any trial period was a key sticking point. Allan Caudwell, Chair of Horsley Parish Council, argued the application should have been rejected a long time ago as it fell afoul of paragraph 55 of the National Planning Policy Framework.

“The paragraph requires an existing agricultural enterprise, the permanent presence of someone on site and the application to be commercially viable” he said. Nailsworth Parish Councillor Paul Carter said: “Is this really about agricultural need, or is it just a grand design in the open countryside?

“Market research and feasibility are completely lacking. He is planning this big development on the back of selling a few potatoes. I would question whether he really has the intent to develop this business.”

Safety fears surrounding the access of the site were also raised by local resident Peter Marriage.

“It is impossible to pass a vehicle along this route and walkers have to clamber along the sides. Old people find this hard and it raises the possibility of someone slipping under vehicle” he said.

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