The proposal for 28 olive-green yurts, or glamping pods, on land next to Newclose Cricket Ground, where Christmas trees have recently been grown, went before the council’s planning committee on Tuesday, in its first meeting since the coronavirus pandemic started.
With a potential 32 conditions if the application were to be approved, it drew 14 letters of objection from neighbours and criticism from councillors.
One neighbour of the site who objected said the applicant wanted to set up a campsite in a semi-rural location beside the busiest road of the Island — Blackwater Road, which connects Newport to Arreton and Sandown.
“This is a high density of low-quality units with a single shared amenity block, with no shared cooking or washing up facilities — this is not the kind of accommodation the Island should be promoting to tourists.”
Planning agent, David Long, however, said it was a great location and the units were in keeping with the woodland setting as the tree landscape was its unique selling point, ‘nestled into the landscape’.
Mr Long also said the applicant had worked hard to ensure connections with buses, pedestrian links to the cycle path at the back of the site (a proposed bridge) and hoped the site there would support Newport High Street.
Cllr Clare Mosdell, ward member, said she would be the first person to encourage tourists to the Island but if she could, she would pick up the site and move it from one of the busiest roads on the Island, where, if you were to walk on it, you would ‘take your life in your hands’. She also had other concerns about safety and supposed lack-of facilities.
Although, Cllr Julie Jones-Evans, representative of Newport Central, said she was quite comfortable with the application and the offer to the Island’s tourism — and squashed fellow councillors concerns about noise or leisure use as the cricket ground already provides those facilities with no issue.
Cllr Jones-Evans said:
“It is a great location — these places are quiet, relatively peaceful sort of sites. It is a great opportunity to have some camping directly connected to Newport. If you go around Cornwall there are campsites everywhere and a lot of them on tight, busy roads.
“If you like camping, this is quite a nice ideal site, we can’t all be Tapnell Farm — sometimes small is beautiful.”
But Cllr Richard Hollis listed the flaws, saying he had never seen a site so ‘unsuitable for camping’.
A main concern was about the fire risk in the site, with potential barbecues in the dense trees that could spark and cause a fire but also with the wood-burning stoves for each yurt which would produce smoke and blow either over the cricket ground or into the neighbouring properties. He said:
“[The site] will affect the views from the listed building — I cannot say plastic-covered tents are the most attractive thing you should be looking at. It is very detrimental to the quality of life for nearby residents. To me, it is almost like a shanty town.
“It is a nice idea but totally in the wrong place. It is supposed to enhance the character, I can’t see a campsite here is going to enhance the area. I do not think this is the right place. I feel extremely sorry for the residents.”
Councillors voted to refuse the planning permission, 5 to 4, determining the development fails to preserve and enhance the context and character of the local area as well as having a detrimental impact on amenities of neighbouring properties which would in turn impact upon their quality of life, contrary to some of the council’s planning policies.