PLANS for an eco-smallholding have been given the go-ahead in the face of strong local opposition,

The planning approval for land at Higher Metherell includes permission for a new pond, a polytunnel, and the creation of an area of hardstanding for parking.

In her statement to Cornwall Council, applicant Dr Gudrun Taresch explains how her family intends to turn a meadow that had been used for grazing horses into a forest garden.

“A Forest Garden will support biodiversity, provide food in a way that nurtures the soil and create a sustainable space,” she said.

“We plan to create a small pond, a small wetland and willow area, a polytunnel, poultry pen, bee hive and plenty of trees and other perennial plants of edible, medical or other uses.”

Swales will be created to collect and use rainwater more efficiently and work has already taken place to improve the ground so as to retain more water.

The successful planning application follows a refusal by Cornwall Council last year for change of use of the land to create an art and healing centre – refused on the grounds of unsuitable access.

Objectors have pointed out that the 150 square metre hardstanding currently granted is the same size as in the previous scheme.

Along with 31 members of the public who commented on Cornwall Council’s website, all in objection, Calstock Parish Council voted unanimously to recommend the project be refused.

Council members cited grounds of unsuitable access, especially for emergency vehicles, the generation of more traffic on the lane, and road safety.

One local person said that the lane was 2.4m wide at its narrowest point and another said: “I strongly object on the grounds of the proposed access which is via an unadopted farm track. This track was only ever designed to cope with horse and cart, pedestrians and livestock.”

In his report, planning officer George Shirley said: “Objections have focussed on the previously refused plans and suggest the art and healing centre remains the applicant's long-term aspiration. Nonetheless, this application does not seek consent for a change of use of the land and simply seeks consent for structures and operations which would help to achieve the management of the site as a smallholding. The provision of the pond, polytunnel and hard standing would all be considered reasonable and appropriate.

“This proposal would not result in any notable increases in traffic over and above what would be likely to arise from its existing use.

“It is well established that consent cannot be refused on hypothetical situations or the long-term intentions of the applicant - rather the application can and must only be considered on its current merits.”