PLANS to create Cheshire's first 'container glamping' site which would also include a cafe and farm shop have been recommended for refusal.

The proposal earmarked for land at Old Hall Farm in Tilston, near Malpas, would result in a "visually obtrusive and alien form of development", according to a Cheshire West and Chester Council planning officer.

Councillors will meet next week to rule on the plans, which would provide 10 glamping pods made from converted shipping containers, after the planning application was called in by councillor Paul Roberts.

Members of the planning committee will consider the proposal via video link from 4pm on Tuesday, August 4.

There are currently a number of 'container glamping' sites in the UK – such as in the West Country and Ceredigion – but this would be the first in Cheshire if it was to get the go-ahead.

Northwich Guardian:

How one of the proposed glamping pods will look.

The planning application has been submitted to Cheshire West and Chester Council by Robert and Janet Bostock, who own the land and have farmed the site since 1991, with the proposed development being named 'The Farmers Field'.

The plans include:

  • A new retail business promoting produce from the farm and local suppliers.
  • An on-farm café championing the family's home-produced coffee and milk, which will include 50 covers and additional outside seating.
  • A coffee roaster, pasteuriser and campsite amenity facilities.
  • 10 sustainable glamping units.
  • 32 car parking spaces for site users.
  • Landscaping of the field to include conservation zones, a feature waterway and new tree planting.
  • New permissive paths across the farm for guests to access public footpaths and sites of interest.

Tilston Parish Council is in support of the application and no public objections have been made, although some concerns have been expressed,

They include calling for any relocation of pods or other structures to only be allowed within the site boundaries, consideration being given to the protection of Tilston Village Shop, and the council including conditions to control both the extent and the nature of any future development.

Those in support of the application cite reasons such as it providing "much needed employment in the countryside", adding to the "tourism offer in Cheshire" and boosting the economy, creating a "desirable" stop-off point for walkers and cyclists, and having a positive knock-on effect for the local businesses.

Northwich Guardian:

The layout of one of the proposed glamping pods.

The application has been called in to the planning committee by Councillor Paul Roberts who states that it would "contribute to the economic viability of the area and appears to be consistent with relevant policies".

However, in recommending that councillors refuse the proposals, case officer Karl Spilsbury said the "limited economic and social benefits" of the plans would not outweigh the harm to the character and appearance of the countryside.

In his report, he states: "Notwithstanding the applicant's business model for this site, it is considered that there is no operational need for the visitor accommodation or café/shop/coffee roaster businesses to be located in this countryside location, as opposed to being accommodated in nearby identified sustainable settlements.

"It is considered that the site would not be suitably located in terms of its accessibility to local services and facilities by sustainable means of travel, and that allowing the proposal would result in the need to travel by unsustainable means.

"The site is open, undeveloped farmland within an area of similar countryside character, making a significant positive contribution to the overall landscape and scenic beauty of the area and the intrinsic character and beauty of the Cheshire countryside.

Northwich Guardian:

The proposed building which would house the café, shop and coffee roaster.

"The proposed development would not be of a suitable scale and type for its location, would result in a visually obtrusive and alien form of development which fails to protect the character of the countryside.

"It is acknowledged that the camping and shop/café/retail elements of the proposal could result in wider enhancement to the local tourism offer in the surrounding area and therefore such benefits weigh in favour of the proposals.

"However, due to their limited scale, any such weight attributed to this benefit would in this case be limited. It is considered that the harm from the unsustainable location of the site and the resulting harm to the character of the countryside would outweigh the limited economic and social benefits of the proposal."