Hambleton Council’s planning committee heard that while Coppergreen Developments claimed it needed 80 more static caravans at Woodland Lakes Lodges to the west of Carlton Miniott to make its new £3.5m leisure centre there viable, many residents “questioned the full validity of this statement”.
Mike Nickson, of Carlton Miniott Parish Council, said with a total of 202 static caravans at the site and a forecast 1,300 visitors a week, double the population of living in the village’s 108 homes, the holiday park would spoil the area’s rural character and landscapes.
Coppergreen Developments director Richard Sidi said 65 full and part-time staff were already employed at the site before claiming a further 75 workers would be taken on if the proposals were approved - almost one new member of staff per extra static caravan.
He said: “Although we’re 85 per cent booked all year round our continued success is not guaranteed. We need to achieve this new planning permission to provide the confidence for our investors.”
The meeting was told the firm had stated in 2017 that 122 caravans on the site would make it sustainable, but now it was insisting 202 caravans were needed to keep the business afloat.
When councillors considered plans for 70 caravans in 2017 concerns were raised over the loss of prime agricultral land. While the latest meeting saw Coppergreen Developments dismiss their target site as having poor quality soil, others disagreed.
The meeting also heard it was vital to preserve farmland for the UK to become environmentally sustainable, ahead of Hambleton Council approving the scheme, largely on account of its potential economic benefits.
Coun Gareth Dadd added the firm had used “whistles and bells to sell the application”, masking what was overdevelopment and a step too far for a village with just 108 homes.
He said: “It will alter the character that makes Carlton Miniott, Thirsk and that rural hinterland so special and attractive to visitors. We’ll just end up with a Hi-de-Hi! holiday camp, but without the laughter.”
However, the other members of the committee agreed approving the scheme would prove a boost to the area’s tourist industry.
Coun Malcolm Taylor said: “We’re talking about £2m potentially into the local economy. As a strategic proposal I think this is an excellent asset to the area. It’s what we do well in North Yorkshire.”