The millionaire owner of a Herefordshire holiday park has said a government planning decision will not derail his plans for the park.

Saltmarshe Castle Residential Park near Bromyard is run by Essex-based Wyldecrest Parks Management, owned by Alfie Best listed on the Sunday Times Rich List in 2020 as having a fortune of over £340 million.

It unsuccessfully appealed against Herefordshire Council’s refusal to grant a certificate that would have regularised the use of a roughly two-hectare area of the park for residents’ recreation.

This area had been left off a Certificate of Lawful Existing Use or Development (CLEUD) issued in 2016, just after Wyldecrest acquired the park.

The company then claimed that the missing section had been in continuous use as part of the caravan site for over ten years, meaning it passed the threshold period for which a CLEUD is automatically granted.

A portable office and play area on the plot of land “are uses that are ancillary to the caravan site use”, it pointed out.

North Bromyard Parish Council requested at the time that “no caravans, mobile homes or any other building works should be carried out on this area as it is open countryside”.

But Mr Best said: “We are not looking to put caravans on it. We are regularising what’s already in place.”


Having studied the photographic evidence, Herefordshire Council planning officer Josh Bailey concluded last February that “a continuous ten-year uninterrupted period cannot be demonstrated at this time” and refused the bid.

Meanwhile there were “continuing enforcement matters” at the caravan park, which were the subject of “ongoing discussions”, Mr Bailey noted.


The company, reported to be Europe's largest residential park operator, appealed.

But planning inspector Gareth Symons has now backed the council’s refusal, saying the evidence from ten years previously was “very thin” and “does not substantiate that there was probably a material change of use of the land to a caravan site”.

“The council's refusal to grant a certificate of lawful use or development in respect of the use of land as a caravan site was well-founded,” he concluded.

Mr Best said: “The inspector has been very fair and agreed with what we are saying, we just haven’t put enough evidence forward for it.

“So we need to go back and do that, which we can – many people know this site from years ago, and we can get declarations from them. The inspector has left the door open for that.”

He pointed to the inspector’s clarification that “It is not necessary for caravans to have been on land for it to meet the (legal) definition. The land does though need to have been used in conjunction with a caravan site.”

“The inspector has made that very clear and the council can’t go behind that,” he said.

“It’s cost a lot of time a paperwork. But if you go onto Google Earth, you can see a football pitch and dog-walking tracks (in previous years).”

Mr Best worked incognito at the park for an episode of ITV’s Undercover Big Boss last August.