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Plan for 118 eco lodges near Lichfield gets go-ahead on appeal

More than 100 eco lodges are set to be built near Lichfield after a planning decision was overturned on appeal.

An aerial view showing King's Orchard Marina next to the Coventry Canal. Photo: Google

The development of 118 timber-clad lodges will be the first of its kind in the district and will be built next to the King's Orchard Marina on the Coventry Canal in Huddlesford.

The application had been recommended for approval by planning officers at Lichfield District Council but was later refused by the planning committee in August 2018 after a campaign against it.

However it has now been approved after the refusal was overturned at an appeal heard by inspector Mike Worden, who was appointed by the Secretary of State.

At the appeal, Mr Worden said: “I have found harm, but overall I conclude that this harm is clearly outweighed by the (economic) benefits of the scheme to which I have attached significant weight.

"The proposal would be contrary to some policies of the development plan but accord with others. On balance I consider that the appeal should succeed.”

The proposed development, which is about 2.5 miles north of Lichfield Cathedral, was originally planned for 139 lodges but was reduced in scale to 118 lodges of two, three and four-bedroom accommodation during the application.

It will include a reception building with meeting space, office, fitness suite, toilets and bike hire and the laying out of 2.5ha green space for nature conservation and leisure, including nature trail and dog walk, tree planting and creation of species rich flower meadow.

Residents were concerned about increased traffic on the surrounding lanes, the impact on pedestrians and horse-riders as well as the intrusion into the countryside.

Some residents were also concerned the lodges might eventually be turned into houses or that they might accommodate workers constructing the HS2 line nearby.

At the hearing the council and the appellant agreed that if the appeal were to be allowed, a condition could be imposed to prevent the use of the lodges for residential purposes, and that this could also be the subject of the legal agreement.

The proposals are expected to contribute significantly to local prosperity and estimated the local economy will be and boosted by £1.5 million to £2m per year.

The site will provide around 30 construction jobs during the development, but it will also create a number of permanent jobs to run the lodge park itself.

Hugh Lufton, principal of Lufton and Associates, the agents of scheme, said: “It is a huge relief that after a long campaign and negotiation we have at last gained planning consent.

"I hope local people will see the benefits of the scheme and realise the gains for local businesses that might provide the goods and services to the holiday-makers and visitors”.

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