Twisted Cider farm has expansion plans approved, despite objections

Date:

Almost two years after a fire destroyed their building, Twisted Cider have received planning permission for a bigger, more diverse operations base.

Dorset Council has approved a change of use application for Twisted Cider to develop a farm building at Spring Farm off Bradford Lane in Longburton near Sherborne. The building is part of Ben Weller’s Twisted Cider premises, and the change of use will cover new cider ‘experiences’ for groups of up to 20 people.
The business has operated from the farm for ten years, but suffered a devastating fire in 2020 in which
it lost equipment and stock. The past two years have been a “real struggle” says Ben Waller, with sales
dropping by 94% The new premises will be 14sqm larger than previously, allowing the business to expand.

Objections by neighbours
Dorset Council approved the change of use application despite some objections, which included neighbours who claim that the proposal amounts to “industrial development by the back door”. Part of the application includes the approval of 12 parking space on the site, and another objection states:
“This is the wrong operation in the wrong place, which will adversely affect neighbours with increased traffic
and influx of too many people to an area of quiet residential properties. Bradford Lane is unsuitable for the type of traffic which this operation will generate.” A planning officer report agreed that the proposal will
generate additional traffic along Bradford Lane, but that ‘the Local Authority cannot object and considers
the proposal does not represent a material harm’.

Business community support
Ben Weller’s application also received numerous letters of support from within the local business community, including the President of Sherborne’s Chamber of Commerce Jane Wood “Mr Weller is an active member of the community, supplying many local businesses and participating in markets and
events in the town and I support his application to develop his business”
Another supporter stated the principle should be to encourage rural businesses to diversify “On-farm
marketing is now a firmly established practice in the UK and is a very natural extension to a farm business
… The addition of an associated sales outlet has been permitted almost universally across the UK cider
industry and forms a vital economic component of such an enterprise. Rural business development in
Dorset deserves support …”
A similarly supportive letter points out that the proposed development plans “llustrate increased distance from previous to proposed location in relation to the nearest residential neighbours … noise impact from Twisted Cider shall be reduced if the proposed location is awarded. Entrance to the proposed car park is also … further away from neighbours driveways.”

New business plans
The new ‘cider experience’ classes will involve visitors cider and juice making, orchard management and the
history of West Dorset ciders. Ben says he intends to open for three extra hours on Fridays and Saturdays, compared to the previous hours (9am to 9pm Saturday and 10am to 4pm on Sundays). A further planning condition restricts any outside use to take place to the west and south of the building with a further condition prohibiting outdoor music. The ‘impact on neighbour amenity’ is considered acceptable.

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