Plans to expand Essex holiday caravan park to meet 'increased demand' refused

A bid to expand a holiday caravan site on the coast of Essex has failed after an inspector said it would result in the loss of safeguarded open space and would affect the character and appearance of the surrounding area.

Park Holidays UK say their proposed development would address “the very high level of demand” at Dovercourt Caravan Park.

Park Holidays UK argued the site, which they wanted to place 35 static and lodge-style holiday caravans on, does not appear to accord with the aims and objectives of the open space designation (SOS) because it is not publicly accessible land and, in part, has been damaged due to anti-social behaviour.

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But the inspector Elaine Moulton said the scrubby coastal land of the site, in combination with undeveloped land of similar characteristics to the south, provides a stark contrast to the built-up urban area of Dovercourt offering a spacious and open buffer between it and the North Sea.

She added the designation as SOS is not dependent on the space being publicly accessible.

Ms Moulton said: "The proposal would fundamentally alter the appearance of the site, through the introduction of static caravans, internal roads, and parking. The naturally regenerated scrubby shrub, grassland, and trees within the site, which placed it within the natural and semi-natural greenspaces typology and contributed to its designation as part of the SOS, would be lost.

"Structural and tree planting is proposed on the periphery of the site, and the most visually prominent trees within it would be retained. Nonetheless, the position and proposed layout of the site would bring development closer to West End Lane and to the residential development to the north and would constitute a significant encroachment into the buffer. Consequently, it would erode the spacious and open character of part of the SOS.”

Dovercourt Caravan Park has planning permission for around 700 static caravans.

In a statement in the initial planning application Park Holidays UK said: The proposed development will address the very high level of demand the park experiences for holiday pitches during the year and is also a commitment by Park Holidays UK to provide a high quality, exclusive element to the park.”