CONTROVERSIAL plans to expand a holiday park at Magpie Bridge near Horrabridge have been thrown out by Dartmoor National Park Authority.

The proposals to double the number of residential units on the site from nine to 18 and from 18 to 36 holiday units was strongly opposed by Horrabridge Parish Council. 

The council said that while the law said the residential units were caravans, because they had wheels, they looked like bungalows and were intended to be lived in all year around.

‘This loophole which Devon Oaks is attempting to exploit takes unfair advantage of those who live in the national park,’ the parish council wrote.

There were ten objections, which accused people of an ‘over-development of the site’  but also two letters of support, including one which said the housing was needed.

Local residents were also concerned that access to the site was on a blind bend and that access to the village of Horrabridge would have to be along the busy main road, the A386.

One objector wrote: ‘I see there does not seem to be a satisfactory pedestrian link being proposed for Devon Oaks to Horrabridge village. The village is already beyond capacity for parking and regularly gets congested during busy traffic times. Horrabridge cannot take more cars! The proposed development also excludes a full age range of prospective buyers. This is surely discriminatory, especially when there is such a high demand for housing for young people in the area.’

However among the supporters of the application by owners Barton Farm Estates Ltd was one in support, which said: ‘I am in total agreement for Devon Oaks Park to have people living there full-time just like it used to be.

‘This will give the village extra revenue. Even the people that live there currently have given the village economy an extra boost by using local shops, holding quiz nights at the local pub for good causes. I believe some short-sighted villagers who only think of themselves have the “not in my backyard” syndrome.’

However, another objection said that the fact that the park homes were only open to those aged over 45, saying ‘this is discriminatory to those under 45 and families’.

The application was for a Certificate of Lawfulness, which would allow the holiday park to expand.

It follows earlier attempts to increase the number of units which was rejected on appeal to the Government’s Planning Inspectorate in 2020. This was for up to 80 caravans for people to live in full time and was taken to the High Court where it was rejected.

Further applications for a Certificate of Lawfulness - effectively a planning green light – were thrown out on appeal. 

Rejecting the application, national park case officer Joanna Rumble notes that the current position for the site dates back to 1987, when permission was given for nine static caravans to be occupied all year around, along with a further 16 chalets, 18 static vans and 30 touring units to be only occupied for ten months of the year.

The current application is to alter the current permission for nine residential, 18 holiday, 30 touring caravans and 16 chalets to 18 residential, 36 holiday (static) caravans, 30 touring caravans and up to 16 chalets.

However, the officer said that the proposal had the potential to urbanise the area.

‘The existing character reflects the site’s countryside location, with substantial open areas of grass meadow and pasture connecting it to the rural landscape in which it sits. The doubling of the number of residential and holiday static caravans would increase the density of the use creating a substantially more visible and suburban character to the site.

‘It is considered that the proposal would bring about a substantial and fundamental change in land use character of the planning unit resulting in a material change of the use of the site.’

Devon Oaks was contacted for a comment but declined to comment. A spokesperson said they had not yet received notification of the decision.