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Thursday, 18 December 2014

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Row over farm site plan

A DISGRUNTLED farmer plans to file a complaint against the councillor he says broke the rules in getting his planning application thrown out.

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Trevor Wilson questioned the impartiality of his neighbour, district councillor Mary Wilson, when she spoke out against plans to transform redundant buildings on his farm.

He said the proposals for Lower Bankside Farm, near Cartmel, would have created much-needed jobs by adapting buildings that are no longer fit for purpose.

And Cllr Wilson’s personal interest in the site, he argued, should have prevented her from being able to speak on the matter.

He said: “She should not have been on that planning committee – she has done exactly what she is not supposed to do.”

Holker Estates, which leases the land to Mr Wilson, applied to reclassify the vacant buildings for storage and light industrial use.

Members of the South Lakeland District Council planning committee rejected the proposals following a speech from Cllr Wilson at a meeting on Friday.

But she has responded saying the rules have recently changed and she consulted council lawyers extensively to be sure she was not in breach of them.

She declined to comment on why the matter went in front of the committee, against planning officers’ advice, but said another councillor agreed that neighbours’ objections meant it should have been discussed at the meeting.

Mr Wilson said there had been plenty of interest from people wanting to bring a business to the site and the lack of opportunity was driving young people with valuable skills away from the area.

But Cllr Wilson said there are plenty of farmers who would like to use the land and her priority was protecting farm land in the area.

She added: “It is not as though I had a vested interest – I am much more likely to be bothered by an active farm than I am by the work that might happen.”

However, Mr Wilson said anyone trying to use the land for farming would struggle, as shown by the declining number of farms in the area.

He argued: “A 110 acre marginal farm simply is not viable today.”

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