New plans for farm at centre of controversy
New planning applications have been submitted for further development on the site of a controversial chicken farm near Bath.
Owner Golden Valley Paddocks has applied for retrospective planning permission for some of the work it has already carried out at the site at Woolley, as well as asking to build new storage units and living accommodation.
It follows a High Court ruling last summer that Bath and North East Somerset Council had been wrong to decide that most of the development did not require planning consent, and that the local authority needed to take a tougher stance.
The farm has caused controversy in the area, with residents setting up the Save Woolley Valley Action Group (SWVAG) because they believe it is a blot on the landscape.
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However the applicant's agent Marc Willis said they wanted to put the past behind it and focus on the future of the business.
He said: "We want a farm. That is what it is all about. It is about having a new farm."
A statement from SWVAG said the group was unhappy with the new applications and said the council should be taking enforcement action against the development that was already there.
It said: "B&NES has failed to enforce the reversal of unpermitted development changes to a controversial site.
"Furthermore in failing to act to enforce the refusal of previous retrospective planning permissions they have now allowed part of the changes made by the developer to become regularised."
It added: "How much more council tax will B&NES continue to waste by delaying enforcement against this site?"
A spokesman for B&NES defended the way the authority had handled the case. He said: "Under Government legislation, retrospective planning applications are allowed to be submitted and determined – undertaking development without planning permission is not an offence in itself.
"It would not be reasonable for the council to take action to stop or remove that development before a decision is made on an application. If we did, this action could be challenged at appeal opening the possibility of unnecessarily exposing the local taxpayer to significant costs."
Councillor Geoff Ward (Con, Bathavon North) said: "There has been creeping development on the site for some years, the cumulative effect of which has led to odour nuisance, health risk and harm to the amenity of residents.
"It is an unsuitable location for the scale of the operation."
People have until next Thursday to comment on the application, which has the reference number 12/05660/FUL.