CONTROVERSIAL proposals to convert a popular Wimborne caravan park to only accommodate statics and lodges have been refused.

Shorefield Holidays had sought the change of use permission from East Dorset District Council for Wilksworth Farm, in Cranborne Road, Furzehill.

The firm’s plan would have seen the holiday park accommodation change from 77 static caravan pitches, 60 touring caravan pitches and 25 tented pitches to 141 static caravan pitches and 11 static lodges.

However, council planning officers deemed the scheme failed to meet requirements for development within the South East Dorset Green Belt and any public benefits would not outweigh the potential harm to two listed assets on the site.

A statement submitted on behalf of the applicants by Ken Parke Planning said the change was required to “react to the changing demands of the domestic holiday market”.

It also said the plan would move the site from a “more informal touring operation” to a model which mirrored other operations in Dorset and Hampshire.

However, the application was met with more than 20 letters of objection from residents, who raised a variety of issues to the development, including the impact on character of the site, loss of variety of accommodation and lack of open space.

Colehill Parish Council also objected due to concerns about overcrowding on the site from the increase in static caravans.

Historic England was "extremely concerned" at the proposed intensification of use in close proximity to the grade II* listed 16th century Wilksworth Farmhouse.

Shorefield Holidays took over operating Wilksworth Farm caravan park from the previous landowner in spring last year and their application for change of use followed in November.

In rejecting the scheme, council planning officer Elizabeth Adams’s report said "the economic and social benefits fail to outweigh the environmental harm".

The report added: "The public benefits of the proposed siting of static caravans on the site does not outweigh the harm that the proposal would cause to the significance of the listed assets on the site arising from harm to their setting."