A Herefordshire golf club owned by multi-millionaire Alfie Best has been told holiday lodges on the course can stay.

A dispute with Herefordshire Council on their lawfulness hinged chiefly on whether the chalet-style lodges, at Sapey Golf and Country Club north of Bromyard met the legal definition of “caravans”, for which planning conditions are less onerous.

Mr Best’s company Wyldecrest Parks Management applied in November 2020 for retrospective permission to allow part of the course to be used to site the three, identified as caravans for planning purposes.

Herefordshire Council’s planning officer said there was “clear doubt as to whether the structures on site do truly satisfy the [legal] definition of a caravan”.

The fact that one, known as ‘Carnoustie’, has a spiral staircase leading to a rooftop terrace “takes it outside the definition of a caravan and constitutes operational development”, which would then require more information on ecological impact and provision of drainage in order to be approved, the council ruled.


But Wyldecrest appealed against the council’s refusal, and now government-appointed planning inspector Richard Parker has backed the holiday parks firm’s bid to have the land changed to use as a caravan site.

Mr Parker acknowledged from his appeal hearing that “residents contend this development is the thin end of the wedge, and that allowing this appeal would open the door to proposals for a larger caravan site over the type operated by the appellant elsewhere, including at nearby Saltmarshe Castle Park”.

Though noting that two previous applications for a further six and 14 holiday lodges at the golf course had already been refused, “I must deal with the current appeal on its merits”, he said.

The parties agreed on a condition limiting occupancy of the lodges to 28 days at a time by the same person or group, or six months per year, preventing their use becoming residential, he added.

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However, he did agree with the council that ‘Carnoustie’ did not meet the legal definition of a caravan, meaning “it cannot lawfully be located on land for which planning permission has been granted for change of use to a caravan site”.

“Whether the unit can be made to comply by removing the spiral staircase and roof terrace is a matter for the parties to discuss outside of this appeal,” he added.

“The council has powers to seek the removal of the unit should that become necessary.”

But “none of this precludes me from considering the planning merits of a change of use of the land to a caravan site for three caravans… set out on the application form”, for which he found “no material conflict” with the county planning policies cited by the council.

The inspector also made a partial award of costs against Herefordshire Council.

Wyldecrest took over Sapey Golf Club for a reported £1.25 million in 2017 when it faced closure.

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