An upmarket tourism development in the Herefordshire countryside has been approved despite concerns over its impact on narrow local roads.

A & JM Sheppard Partnership’s proposed “small-scale rural tourism venture” at Caerwendy Farm, between St Weonards and Orcop was decided on by Herefordshire Council’s planning committee this week following a site visit.

The venture comprises two converted traditional barns, an existing bungalow and three newly built units being used for self-catering holiday accommodation, and the conversion of another barn into indoor recreation area with “small” swimming pool, along with landscaping and groundworks.

The new facilities would “benefit the local area as well as guests”, the application said.


It drew 16 objections locally. St Weonards Parish Council found the plans acceptable but “shared the same concerns as the local community” over road safety, access, noise and impact on a neighbouring property.

John Bothamley, a neighbour of the applicant, told the committee this week that he also represented several other local objectors, whose objections were “many”.

He considered that application was “muddled and insufficient”, but his main concern was the four-kilometre access from St Weonards along a narrow single-track road with few passing places.

However the applicant’s agent Ellie Watkins pointed out that the council’s highways officer had made no objection.

Ward member Toni Fagan said the site was “remote from amenities, with those staying there reliant on private cars”.

“These roads are quite busy with agricultural equipment at certain times of the year, they often flood during bad weather, while drainage ditches are harmed by vehicles trying to pass one another,” she said. “These issues haven’t been picked up by highways.”

The council’s lead development manager Kevin Bishop proposed a further condition on the permission that new access and an additional passing place be readied for use prior to first occupation.

Coun Yolande Watson warned: “I have a lot of Trojan horses in my ward where buildings for holiday let use are changed to become domestic buildings.”

But committee chair Coun Terry James said that he had concluded that “this site wouldn’t be suitable for residential use because of the close proximity to other new buildings – I don’t think this is a Trojan horse”.

Coun Paul Rone called it “fabulously ambitious, top-end offering” and “a wonderful investment in rural Herefordshire by a local company”.

Coun James agreed that it was “one of the best applications we’ve had in many a day”.

The motion to approve was carried with one abstention.