A successful family business in Lifton which employs 165 people has had its plans turned down for a farm manager’s home because of the size of the building.

West Devon Borough councillors were told the building would be more than two and a half times larger than what is generally acceptable.

A farm manager’s home for Wooladon Farm already has planning consent in principle. The farm is 540 acres and includes 300 cows, 400 sheep and crops, the Strawberry Fields Farm Shop and restaurant, a wedding venue and self catering holiday cottages.

The council’s development management committee was considering an application for detailed plans, which included size and scale of the building plus access and landscaping.

Planning officers wanted the proposal turned down, saying the structure which included estate managers’ offices and a conference room was unlikely to remain affordable for an agricultural worker’s building and so was contrary to policy.

Agent for the applicants Peter Wonnacott said there were more than 300 bookings per year for the wedding and holiday business, and the applicants Mrs and Mrs Mounce, were hands-on managers who needed to live on site to serve all aspects of the large enterprise.

The application was supported by Lifton Parish Council and no residents objected.

Cllr Chris Edmonds (Con, Tamarside) said managers were on call 24 hours a day, seven days a week. The building would be centrally located to ensure the owners could take care of the welfare needs of their stock and “frequent and urgent demands of a multi-faceted business operation” and was in proportion for a business of this kind.

Cllr Neil Jory (Con, MIlton Ford) said he had seen this business grow and could not fail to be impressed what the family had done, but he felt the proposal was against the policy concerning rural workers’ dwellings.

He suggested some business functions could be accommodated around the shop, thereby making the footprint of the proposed house smaller.

The application was unanimously refused by the committee.

Strawberry Fields Farm Shop was named the UK’s best national large farm shop last year.