WEST Dorset holiday site has been refused permission to open for longer – although Dorset Council agreed that to do so would have been acceptable.

It has now refused the application after the site owner decided not to pay a fee as part of a legal agreement which would have secured extra opening.

Residents living nearby had opposed the additional weeks although it was supported by the parish council.

The Golden Acre Holiday Park at Mount Lane, Eype had asked for a change to its planning consent to allow year-round use, apart from between January 31 and February 13.

The site, which is surrounded by private homes, currently has 20 self-catering holiday chalets.

In the application for the change to Dorset Council the owner argued that year-round occupation has been agreed at Highlands End and “not prevented” at Eype Mouth Chalet Park and should, therefore also be allowed at Golden Acre to make the site more sustainable.

Neighbours objecting to the proposed longer opening claimed it would mean having no meaningful respite from the activities of the site's residents.

Since 2015 the park has been open for longer than it was originally agreed after planning permission was granted at appeal to allow year round occupation of the chalets with a maximum of 10 able to be occupied between November 13 and December 21 and January 5 and February 13.

The change was on a temporary basis of three years, until June 2018, to monitor and assess the impact of the changes. But despite this a council report noted: “The end of the temporary permission was unwittingly over-looked - with occupancy in the “closed period” continuing to occur in recent years.”

Neighbours objecting to the change to opening all year, apart from two weeks, each made similar points about increased traffic and pedestrians on a narrow road and increases in light and noise pollution. Some argued that the business case for the extra use had not been proven.

Said one resident: “I'm objecting to this application on the basis the chalets should shut to give the village a break from the constant onslaught of traffic and noise and more recently litter and dog mess. In 2015 this was agreed and we have noted the chalets have accepted people during lockdown and it hasn't totally shut but that doesn't mean we accept the situation. I think having a good business for all of the year apart from 6 weeks in the winter should be enough. I live opposite and there is a flow of people, a lot with dogs taking shelter in my drive to avoid traffic and it is good to know there is a lull from all of this.”

Support for the extra opening came form Symondsbury Parish Council on the basis that it brings income to local hospitality businesses in the area at a quiet time of year.

A Dorset Council planning officer said that despite the additional opening agreed in 2015 continuing for more than the agreed three years it did not result in any complaints at the time, or more recently, apart from those prompted by the planning application for additional opening times.

The officer said that the site lies within the 5km buffer zone of the Chesil Beach and the Fleet Special Area of Conservation (SAC), Special Protection Area (SPA) and a Ramsar site and extra use of the chalet park would be likely to result in increased recreational pressures on the ecologically sensitive area which, it was agreed, could be mitigated by an appropriate payment.

A mitigation fee of £555 was agreed under the Habitat Regulations and offered by the site owner, but without signing a legal agreement, known as a Section 106 obligation, required by Dorset Council. This also involved a checking fee which the site owner thought unfair.

The council officer said that without the legal agreement the proposal would remain contrary to Wildlife and Habitats policy and would have to be refused.

“The council cannot lawfully accept financial contributions without the power to do so, in this case through a s106 obligation. A s106 obligation also means that the council can spend the contribution only for the purposes for which it was given… Simply receiving a cheque without a s106 obligation could be seen as buying permission. The Local Planning Authority (Dorset Council) needs statutory authority to receive a contribution such as this and that can only be achieved with a s106 obligation. To do otherwise would be unlawful for the council. The applicant does not wish to pay the fee for the legal checking of the s106. He has instead submitted a cheque/covering letter without the required Section 106. As it has not been submitted in the required manner it has been returned to the applicant. Consequently, in the absence of the required Section 106 and checking fee, the application does not secure the required ecological mitigation contribution. In these circumstances the proposal fails to provide the appropriate mitigation of recreational pressures through satisfactory submission of the required contribution.”