CONTROVERSIAL plans for a new farm at Sugley Lane, Horsley, have been refused by Stroud Development Control Committee.

Mr Bernie Courts had plans to turn his current 9-acre home site into a 25 acre agricultural dwelling by securing a lease from his employers Ruskin Mill Trust.

Plans for the development included the ownership of poultry, sheep, pigs and cattle as well as continuing growing vegetables and keeping turkeys.

When case officer Ian Pople recommended the plans to the full committee it seemed likely they would be passed but on Tuesday, June 17, the application was unanimously refused.

Deputy mayor of Stroud, John Marjoram, vice-chairman of the committee, approved the refusal as he was sceptical Courts’ farm could add anything extra into an already crowded market of locally sourced produce in Horsley.

The business development plans promised to make a large profit through selling produce developed on the site, as well as running cookery and gardening courses.

The plans also received more letters of support than objection, however it was noted the objectors were almost entirely local whereas those in support lived far away.

Peter Marriage, resident of Sugley Lane spoke to the committee and referred to the poor access to the site, particularly in the winter, as a factor in his refusal.

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

Councillors and committee members were wholly unconvinced of the legitimacy of 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. District Councillor for Nailsworth and Horsley Paul Carter said: “This is a planned business, not an existing business. All he has done so far is sell a few potatoes so I would question whether he really has the intent to develop this business. Market research and feasibility was completely lacking.”

Cllr Carter continued by referring to the luxury of the proposed ‘agricultural workers dwelling’ which was to include a large family lounge, large kitchen, master en-suite bedroom and four guest bedrooms. He added: “Is this really about agricultural need, or is it just a grand design in the open countryside.”

Allan Caudwell, chairman of Horsley Parish Council, argued the application should have been rejected a long time ago as it fell foul of paragraph 55 of the National Planning Policy Framework. which states: He said: “The paragraph requires an existing agricultural enterprise, the permanent presence of someone on site and the application to be commercially viable.”