PLANS to build Cheshire's first 'container glamping' site have been given the go-ahead by council planners.

The proposed development on land at Old Hall Farm in Tilston, near Malpas, would provide 10 glamping pods made from converted shipping containers, while the development would also include a cafe and farm shop.

The plans had been recommended for refusal by the council's planning officer, but councillors gave the nod to the application on a 6-5 vote, subject to a number of conditions, at their virtual planning meeting on Tuesday, August 4.

The planning application had been submitted to Cheshire West and Chester Council by Robert and Janet Bostock, who own the land and have farmed the site since 1991, with the development being named 'The Farmers Field'.

The proposal includes:

  • A new retail business promoting produce from the farm and local suppliers.
  • An on-farm café championing the family's home-produced coffee and milk, which will include 50 covers and additional outside seating.
  • A coffee roaster, pasteuriser and campsite amenity facilities.
  • 10 sustainable glamping units.
  • 32 car parking spaces for site users.
  • Landscaping of the field to include conservation zones, a feature waterway and new tree planting.
  • New permissive paths across the farm for guests to access public footpaths and sites of interest.

Councillors had read the report from the council's case officer Karl Spilsbury, who said the "limited economic and social benefits" of the plans would not outweigh the harm to the character and appearance of the countryside, and had recommended refusal.

But councillors also heard the application had had 18 letters of support, with no objections, which Cllr Myles Hogg remarked was extremely rare for a rural application.

Malpas parish councillor Mike Hearn said the plans would "support sustainability and local businesses", while the farm shop would increase the number of visitors to the area.

The parish council had heard the application and recommended it was approved, with conditions.

Josephine McKerchar, the applicants' daughter and employee on the farm, said: "Our family has farmed for 50 years in the Tilston area.

"Low milk prices and increased costs threaten viability. EU funding of the single farm payments stops this December when the Government begins phasing farms away from this financial support.

"Farms will have to stand on their own two feet. Our farm must adapt to survive."

Councillors heard the farm had secured Defra funding for the proposal based on its diversification strengths if approved, and would generate seven new full-time jobs and benefit the local economy by £300,000 a year.

Farndon Cllr Paul Roberts added the plans would also be a "wonderful opportunity to make a little known part of South West Cheshire's Roman history" become more visible to a wider audience, given the neighbouring Roman site.

Cllr Peter Rooney praised the concept of the glamping pods, and said the location for them – away from industrial or housing estates – was "idyllic".

He added it would give those going a chance to sample the local produce, and said: "It looks like somewhere I would be booking a place myself."

But Cllr Samantha Dixon rejected the plans, saying such a development, with six-metre tall buildings, was "wrong" for the countryside and went against the council's Local Plan.

Cllr Hogg said the development may not be in the Local Plan, but neither was Covid-19, and did not believe the plans would "materially harm the surrounding countryside".

Councillors voted to approve the plans, subject to a number of conditions which would be drawn up by the head of planning, following concerns raised by councillors and planning officers during the meeting.

They included making sure a linked footpath to the site was suitably accessible for all, the installation of a treatment plant, car parking provision, cycle provision, a noise management plan and for biodiversity and archaeological studies to be carried out on site.