MUSIC FESTIVAL and camping events on a site between Wareham and Corfe Castle have failed to gain consent as an established use.

Dorset Council has decided against issuing a certificate of lawful development for the site at Knoll Farm, Soldiers Road.

It had been claimed that the site for camping with "ancillary music festivals, functions and events" had been going on for more than ten years and, therefore, qualifies as an established use no longer needing to go through the full planning process.

The site is sandwiched between the Stoborough Heath and Hartland Moor national nature reserves with access to the single-track Soldiers Lane opposite the Halfway Inn on the main road between Wareham and Corfe Castle.

The application had been made by Mrs Linda Barnes of Purbeck Valley Farmhouse, Valley Road who produced a series of photographs and statements from a range of people to back the established use claim.

A submission by the Dorset Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty team said that although there had been camping and other uses it had not been continuous over the ten year period. The team's submission described the site as "sitting in a sensitive context being both clearly visible from surrounding points of public access and being in the immediate setting of highly protected heathland."

Arne Parish Council backed the nature team saying that many of those who claimed continuous use were offering no more than anecdotal statements of sporadic use.

"It is our contention that the applicant has not provided such evidence of continuous use for a period of 10 years. Rather the applicant and others have offered anecdotal statements not supported by appropriate factual evidence on when the campsite has been in operation including for festivals and other events. The objective evidence from Google Earth would instead appear to support the statements from local residents that this field has not been used continuously for 10 years as a campsite but has been used for agricultural purposes."

A statement denying the continual use of the site was also provided by the National Trust which manages large areas around the Purbecks.

In its summary of the evidence Dorset Council decided that there was no clear and unambiguous evidence that the site had been used as a campsite with ancillary music festivals, functions and events for a continuous period of 10 years and did not qualify for the established use consent.

Despite the council ruling the site owner may still be able to use legislation which allows for camping, and possibly other events as well, provided the site is not in use for more than 28 days over the course of a year.