Bewl Water will NOT be turned into Center Parcs: Planning application thrown out
By kentsussex | Friday, November 16, 2012, 14:49
A controversial planning application, which detractors feared would "turn Bewl Water into Center Parcs", has been refused.
The application by Kent Attractions to build 13 eco-holiday lodges was turned down despite being recommended by council officers.
Wadhurst, Ticehurst and Lamberhurst parish councils along with Tunbridge Wells Borough Council were among 184 individuals and organisations to lodge objections.
And at a meeting of Wealden District Council's planning committee on Wednesday councillors almost unanimously rejected the plan.
Stacey Robbins, planning officer for Wealden District Council, told councillors the eco-lodges had been reduced from 24 to 13 and the 11 lodges which had been withdrawn had been the most contentious, being sited next to the boat park.
But Chris Price, chairman of the Bewl Water Monitoring Committee, which is made up of three parish councils and local residents, spoke against the proposal.
He said: "These so-called lodges are completely out of character to the local buildings and they are very visible."
He added: "There is no report available from any authority to say there is not enough holiday accommodation."
No one from Kent Attractions spoke at the meeting and the company declined to comment when approached by the Courier.
But councillor Neil Waller supported the application.
"It is an artificial lake," he said. "There are two areas proposed for the eco-lodges, next to the road, well-screened.
"If the ones next to the visitor centre are more controversial could we not just ask for greater screening?
"It's a 70 acre site – and by putting them in a smaller area they are minimising the impact."
But councillor Bob Standley, leader of the council and also a Wadhurst parish councillor, disagreed.
He said: "We are charged as a council to preserve and protect the Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty – this doesn't come close to it."