A scheme for a 40-pitch campsite on ‘best’ south Pembrokeshire agricultural land was refused despite pleas for approval, or at least a site visit.

Applicant Charles Goldsworthy sought – in an application submitted through agent Steve Hole Architects – permission for 40 pitches including associated infrastructure at Parke Farm campsite, just outside the hamlet of Merrion, near Pembroke.

Concerns were raised by Stackpole & Castlemartin Community Council in relation to safety when exiting the caravan site onto the main road.

The application was recommended for refusal at the December meeting of Pembrokeshire Coast National Park’s Development Management Committee; an officer report for members stating the application was contrary to national planning policy as it seeks to change the use of Best and Most Versatile (BMV) Agricultural Land into a caravan and camping site.

“Such land should only be developed if there is an overriding need for the scheme and either previously developed land or land in lower agricultural grades are unavailable,” and such land “should be conserved as a finite resource for the future with considerable weight given to protecting it from development,” the report said.

At the December meeting, Councillor Reg Owens made failed attempts for either a site visit or approval of the application.

He said the 10-acre site, while occupying BMV land, was too small to be a viable farm in its own right, and a caravan park wouldn’t prevent future agricultural usage.

“I’m a bit reluctant to support a blanket refusal; this site, I personally would like to go out and have a look.”

Cllr Owens’ site visit call saw members tie on six votes for and six against, committee chair Madeline Havard casting a second vote against it on the basis members had sufficient information, and the scheme went against policy.

Cllr Owens then made a call for the scheme to be approved: “We are a tourist county, it’s perhaps the biggest employer; I always felt we should cater for everybody to come and enjoy the beauty of the Pembrokeshire Coast National Park, and the rest.

“There is a need for accommodation which is affordable to all.”

Cllr Owen’s call for approval failed, with the recommendation for refusal later passing.

The application site is some 400 metres from the partly-demolished RAF St Twynnells Rotor Radar Station, developed to counter the threat of attack by the Soviet Union after their first trial of a nuclear weapon in 1949.