GAVE IT’S BLESSING: Caravan park expansion approved
Entrance To The Quantock Orchard Caravan Park, Image: LDRS
A popular caravan park on the main road between Taunton and Minehead can expand after plans were approved.
John Buckland runs the Quantock Orchard Caravan Park in Crowcombe, which lies off the A358 near Flaxpool Garage on the western edge of the Quantock Hills area of outstanding natural beauty (AONB).
Mr Buckland applied to create a further 34 pitches for static caravans, as well a first floor extension to the existing pavilion on the site.
Somerset West and Taunton Council’s planning committee gave its blessing to the proposals when it met in Taunton on Thursday afternoon (September 2).
The site – which lies north of Crowcombe Heathfield railway station on the West Somerset Railway – currently has 15 static caravan pitches, with the capacity for 61 touring caravans on top of this.
Under Mr Buckland’s proposals, the site will become entirely occupied by static caravans – which, he argued, would reduce traffic on the A358.
Due to static pitches being larger than touring pitches, the total number of caravans which the site will be able to accommodate will be capped at 42.
Neither of the ward councillors for South Quantock – transport portfolio holder Mike Rigby and former West Somerset Council leader Anthony Trollope-Bellew – have objected to the proposals, with neither being present at the committee meeting.
Councillor Ian Aldridge – who represents the neighbouring Watchet and Williton ward – said the changes would make the main road safer for both locals and tourists travelling to Minehead.
He said: “The reason why that junction is so bad is that this is one of the few straight bits without double white lines along that entire route down to Williton.
“The frustration of people caught behind slow vehicles or even just the bus (which, thankfully, we still have on that route) causes people to see a broken white line and they go for it.
“I was involved in an accident at the other end of that straight, where I was going along the main road minding my own business and was hit by a vehicle coming out of the junction before this site.
“As for the site itself, you really don’t know it’s there – I have no problem with this kind of thing.”
Councillor Sarah Wakefield said the council was duty bound to ensure the caravans were not being used all year round as second homes.
She said: “Wouldn’t it be better [in the planning conditions] to say they can only be occupied for a maximum of 11 months of the year?
“I’ve seen this before – it doesn’t always get enforced and it is a concern for local people. It is not a home park, it’s a holiday park.
“Because they’ll be no touring caravans, does that create problems elsewhere? We’ve got people in caravans stopping in car parks in that park of the world – are we just shifting the problem somewhere else?”
After less than half an hour’s debate, the plans were approved by 11 votes to zero, with one abstention.
Words: Daniel Mumby, Local Democracy Reporter
Watch the channel on TV