BOURNEMOUTH council says it has "made every effort" to promote its plans for a new farm-based attraction in Throop.

Last week the Echo reported concerns from residents of the Throop Village Conservation Group that the borough had not properly publicised the scheme for fear it would provoke public opposition.

However Michael Rowland, council head of parks development, said the consultation period had even been extended to five weeks to allow more people to view the plans.

"We have made every effort to promote this consultation," he said. "Our manned information caravan will be at Kingfisher Barn Visitor Centre and Throop nearly every day in August to make sure we capture views from those people using or living in the area.

"We are also providing a five week period for the consultation to accommodate people who may be on summer holidays. We look forward to talking to local people and gathering their comments."

"Hicks Farm is an important part of Bournemouth’s green belt and the proposals being consulted on are a way of protecting the land for the future."

The council plans to use a £10,000 Heritage Lottery Fund grant in the transformation of the 50 hectare Hicks Farm, which it owns, into a community farm for educational and entertainment purposes.

It is also a "key project" in the council's Stour Valley Masterplan, which aims to improve pedestrian and bicycle access and educational provision along 10 miles of river valley between Hengistbury Head and Longham.

This plan saw the development of the Kingfisher Barn Visitor Centre in Muscliff and the Hengistbury Head Visitor Centre.

The council says feedback from the consultation will inform its business plan for the site, and a further public consultation will take place next year on the more detailed proposals, including layout and activities.

Cllr Bob Lawton, cabinet member for parks, said: “Whilst we are at the very early stages of developing the proposals, it is exciting to see the benefits that could be achieved.

"Hicks Farm has the potential to engage volunteers of all ages and skills, similar to our other successful volunteer run projects.

"However, I should like to take this opportunity to calm the fears of residents about the proposals.

"The council wants to ensure that the changes do not have a negative impact on local residents, but rather that they demonstrate a suitable use in this part of the green belt."

The Throop Village Conservation Group, which is on Facebook, has now set up a Just Giving page seeking funds for its campaign.