PLANNERS have refused to ‘do a deal’ over residential use of a holiday caravan park on the West Somerset coast.

St Audries Bay Holiday Club, between Watchet and Kilve, wanted to use a bungalow and two lodges as permanent residential staff accommodation.

In exchange, the family-run Barkers Leisure Holiday Parks, which owns the West Somerset site and six other caravan parks in Wales, said it would give up a long-standing permission for 19 of its caravan pitches to be lived on all year round.

The 19 units were mistakenly allowed to be used for residential purposes and not restricted to holiday lets by the former West Somerset District Council when a planning application was approved in 2015.

But Somerset Council planning officer Russell Williams said: “The suggestion of a legal agreement to remedy a previous oversight, in return for the provision of three unfettered residential dwellings in open countryside is not considered appropriate or reasonable.”

Mr Williams said the 20-acre site was in open countryside in the Quantock Hills National Landscape and close to a locally-designated St Audries Historic Park and Gardens.

He said occupation of the bungalow and two lodges for which the company wanted a change of use was restricted to the site manager and staff.

Planning policies allowed the creation of new open market dwellings in the countryside only in ‘exceptional circumstances’ where ‘this is beneficial to the community and local economy’, which Mr Williams said was not the case.

He said the 19 units which the company was offering up amounted to limited mobile home accommodation unsuitable for year-round living because of a lack of private amenity space and privacy

Mr Williams said: “The accommodation and use may be suitable for holiday makers seeking short-term breaks, but to live in such cramped conditions permanently would not be overly attractive and is presumably why this option has not been taken up by the appellants.

“Such, lends less weight to the fallback position as the likelihood of open market, permanent occupation of any of the 19 units appears unlikely at this time.”

The council therefore refused the change of use planning application.

West Quantoxhead parish councillors raised no objection to the application because of the trade off between the existing 19 units against three new residential homes.

Stogursey Parish Council chairman Cllr Chris Morgan said he saw no issue with the application because the bungalow and two lodges had already been used for staff accommodation for some time.

Planning agent Tim Teuber, of ARA Architecture, said St Audries Bay Holiday Club was a popular and well-established holiday park which had been running since 1933 and the three units in question were used by three of the business owners.

Mr Teuber said the caravan park was able to operate for all 12 months of the year so it was currently possible for the 19 caravans to be permanently lived in on site, but a legal agreement would be signed relinquishing this right in exchange for the three staff units.