More holidaymakers can stay on the West Somerset coast after an existing holiday park was granted permission for expansion.
St Audries Bay Holiday Club (United Kingdom) lies near the village of West Quantoxhead head, off the crucial A39, and at the northern tip of the Quantock Hills area of outstanding natural beauty (AONB).
The club director, James Randle, applied for permission to construct additional 58 caravan lodges on the site, replacing disused buildings and under-utilized tennis courts.
Despite significant opposition from the AONB and residents, Somerset West and Taunton Council have been granted permission.
Terry Pentland, who has lived within site for 18 years, claimed he and other residents were not consulted or notified when the plans were first put forward.
“The management decided not to inform the owners of caravans and lodges directly of their plans, and so many owners who have not been able to return to the site after the winter closure were unaware of such a dramatic change to the overall site,” said Pentland.
Pentland said the expansion would change the entire ethos and atmosphere of the club for the worse, and based whole size of the holiday park could be considered over-developed.
“Following the development of 16 new plots (referred to as Exmoor View) at St. Audries, this has attracted not just holiday-owners but investors who have turned their lodge into an Airbnb, and this has caused owners some concerns with security and noise with different people coming and going and staying for as short a period as a single night,” said Pentland.
“My fear is that should permission be granted for further plots. This would continue to attract other investors with a view to hiring out caravans and lodges on a short-term basis, significantly adding to the traffic flow throughout the site and the main single-lane access road.”
Angela Wilcox, who lives near the entrance to the holiday club, said given that drivers are turning off the busy A39 suddenly into a narrow, windy private road with residential houses along the way, she would really like to see some sort of driving limit or safety measures put in place.
“This concern is not just for us but for the safety of everyone who uses this road – residents and holiday-makers.”
The site lies on the England Coast Path and is closely bordered on its western side by the Home Farm Holiday Park, as well as other smaller-scale holiday accommodation,” said Wilcox.
The plans initially indicated further 65 lodges would be provided, but this was subsequently reduced to 58 following consultation with planning officers. Of these 58 lodges, 44 will be created by replacing existing chalets, touring pitches, or service buildings.
As part of the development, the existing tennis courts and putting green will be built on, with the new lodges being sited in five distinct areas – the majority being on the northern side near the picturesque cliffs.
“In order to continue to offer improved facilities at the park, the proposal to redevelop the site within a high quality of year-round tourist accommodation is necessary to develop the business in line with market demand and keep up with the current holidaying trends in the southwest,” a spokesman for ARA Architecture said.
The plans were approved by the delegated powers of the council’s planning officers rather than being decided in public by its planning committee.
“Several concerns were raised over the loss of facilities within the holiday complex,” Case Officer Briony Waterman said.
“While this may be seen as regrettable, it is within the control of the site owners as to which facilities they wish to provide for users of their site.
“It is considered that the additional units in themselves would not have a significant impact upon the residential amenity of the area.”
This article originally appeared on Somerset County Gazette.