Plans for what will become the largest campsite for tourists in Rotherham have been approved by councillors on a site close to Rother Valley country park and the proposed Gulliver’s theme park, even though council officials say the development is technically “inappopriate” because the site is within the green belt.
However, they concluded the scheme should have such a positive impact on tourism and the local economy that it constituted “very special circumstances” allowing the green belt rule to be overridden.
It means the site, capable of holding 129 touring caravans and 34 tents, along with the buildings needed to house facilities for visitors, can go ahead.
Council planners believe the site will create jobs and increase numbers of tourists visiting the district.
They recognise the lack of facilities for touring caravan visitors in Rotherham and the site, when constructed, is expected to be the biggest of its kind in the borough.
The development will see fields currently used for grazing cattle taken over by the development and the site is currently in the green belt, but the land was reclaimed at the same time the country park was created in the 1980s, using land which had previously been utilised by Beighton Pit.
Because of its current use, analysis by ecology experts has found it be of little interest from a wildlife perspective and the council has decided it is an acceptable development.
A report to councillors who gave planning permission said: “This caravan and camping site has been specifically designed to fit in within the landscape and incorporates a comprehensive landscape scheme to provide a pleasant environment for both customers and to minimise the visual impact.
“The three permanent buildings proposed have been designed to a high standard with natural slate roofs and a mixture of stone cladding and render to reflect the rural setting as well as having a modern interesting appearance.”
There was a concern raised by one person that the site could be used by travellers, though that has been dismissed as it will be for tourism.
It is expected to be open throughout the year.
The plans were passed with 11 councillors in favour and one abstention.