Cafe and shop plans approved for Alveston alpaca farm
PLANS for a cafe, shop and craft workshop at an alpaca farm on the outskirts of Alveston have been approved after more than 80 people wrote letters of support.
Part of a large hay barn at Wolfridge Alpaca Stud on the outskirts of Alveston will be converted as the owners look to diversify and attract visitors.
South Gloucestershire Council development management committee granted permission after hearing there had been 83 letters in support of the scheme and that pupils at nearby St Helen’s C of E Primary School would be invited to use the new facilities.
But 29 people and the parish council objected to the plans, on grounds including an “unacceptable risk” to highway safety and the impact on neighbours.
Alveston Parish Council clerk Graham Smith told the meeting members were concerned about classes of 30 pupils attempting to cross the A38, which has a 40mph limit by the farm in Forty Acre Lane, and that the site could be used by parents to park at drop-off and pick-up time.
But highways officer Martin Crawford said no accidents had been recorded on the section of road, which has pedestrian refuge crossing points, and it was considered safe.
Applicant Craig Hyslop said the junction had a good line of sight and Forty Acre Lane was wide.
He said only small groups could be accommodated at the workshops and that the farm, which has about 30 alpacas, would not be available for parents to park.
“We are trying to create a sustainable rural business in the community we are from that will provide local people with jobs and bring money to the rural economy,” said Mr Hyslop, whose grandfather first farmed the land in the 1940s.
South Gloucestershire Council planning manager Marie Bath told the meeting on November 12: “The intention is to provide a variety of visitor experiences, such as leading alpacas on supervised short walks and crafting activities such as creating items with alpaca wool.
“There is a very small shop, which would sell the alpaca yarn and possibly a few items of clothing directly associated with the alpacas on the site.
“It is to be a very low-key business, and the hours of opening are very tightly limited.
“The cafe could accommodate a maximum of 34 covers in non-covid times but actually that is not the main intention.
“The intention is that the tables would be pushed together and used for groups of 10 to 12 people to do a joint crafting activity.
“This isn’t proposed to be a high turnover of people, although passing trade and visitors are welcome.
“Highway experts have assessed the application in detail and raised no issue.
“Officers do accept the concerns that the development will impact on residential amenity but given that the hours of opening are so restricted and that much of the activity will take place in the fields away from the neighbours, the impact is considered to be acceptable.”
Ms Bath said planning policies supported farm diversifications and that the proposals were for an existing building in the greenbelt and open countryside.
Thornbury ward Liberal Democrat councillor Shirley Holloway said: “This application is really very exciting.
“As a past teacher, I can see the benefit for children in education.
“It is all very good and I am very happy about it.”
Judy Adams (Con, Emersons Green) said: “This would certainly make a brilliant community asset to the area.”
Ernie Brown (Con, Stoke Gifford) said: “The crossing point isn’t relevant because this is not a new development – houses and the access are already there.
“There have been no accidents. This will be an asset to the area.”
Brian Hopkinson (Con, Bradley Stoke Central) said he was “shocked” that neighbours who opposed the plans because the road was apparently too narrow appeared to have encroached onto the public highway by effectively extending their properties’ frontages with items such as rocks.
Members agreed unanimously with officers’ recommendation to approve the barn’s change of use.
By Adam Postans, Local Democracy Reporting Service