Sandy Balls at Fordingbridge refused permission by the NPA for year-round use of 55 holiday homes
A NEW Forest holiday park's bid for all its accommodation to be used year-round has been rejected by the national park authority amid concerns about the area being overwhelmed by visitors.
Sandy Balls holiday centre at Godshill, near Fordingbridge, wanted to lift the restriction limiting stays in 55 static caravans between 1st February and 31st October.
Speaking at the NPA's planning meeting, Deborah Day, representing Sandy Balls, said there was "a growing demand” for year-round accommodation.
She said: "With the pandemic and the increase in cost of living, staycations are more in need more than ever.
"Sandy Balls is a well-established family site and the operator is keen to ensure families can maximise the site throughout the year.
“Our lighting report has demonstrated no impact from the proposal. Noise is better controlled [than tourers] due to the quality of lodge installation and outdoor areas are used less in winter periods. Critically, the environment health officer has raised no concerns.”
The 55 units were among 108 granted consent in 2018 on the site of a former touring field which had capacity for 275 pitches.
The application to the NPA requested they be used for an additional 92 days per year.
The holiday park already has 330 units across the site which are available year-round.
Speaking against the application was Ann Cakebread who said she was representing local residents.
She said: "Removing the remaining respite would roughly double the number of holidaymakers in the area in the winter months.
"Fifty-five extra lodges means more transport for about 300 extra people and sometimes there are two cars for one unit.
"More people equals more activity, noise, lights – no effective mitigation is possible."
NPA member Richard Taylor said he was "significantly concerned" about an increase in traffic.
He said: "They expect 75% of the additional traffic to go along Roger Penny Way during November, December and January which is peak months for squashing ponies.
"I think this should have been taken into account."
He said the report looked only at whether there were any human casualties on the road but said he did not know if, legally, animal accidents must also be considered.
David Harrison, fellow NPA member, said there was no evidence to back up the case to prove the need for increased occupancy.
Committee member Sue Bennison added: "It is pertinent to say in 2008 an appeal against refusal of planning permission for a 12-month use of the site when it was a touring site was dismissed by an inspector as he was of the opinion that the respite afforded by the clearance of the site was valuable for neighbours and local occupiers and, might I add, probably the Forest as a whole."
The application received two objections which said the winter period of respite was important to the Forest and to residents. Godshill Parish Council also recommend refusal.
Despite a last-minute application by Ms Day to defer the application to allow the operator to gather information on occupancy rates and mitigation measures for transport and animal accidents, members voted unanimously in favour of refusal.