COTSWOLD firm Daylesford Organic will have to remove cabins it has been using to house staff without planning permission for five years after civic chiefs rejected their latest scheme.

The food company’s retrospective plans to keep seven cabins for staff accommodation to the rear of New Farm in Daylesford near Stow-on-the-Wold has been rejected by Cotswold District Council.

The firm wanted permission to keep the hardstanding and structures there for another two years while they found suitable alternatives for their employees.

But planners unanimously rejected the proposals for the site which has been the subject of an enforcement notice since April 2021.

Robert Jones, a nearby resident, addressed today’s (February 7) planning and licensing committee, and said he was pleased with the officer’s recommendation for refusal.

He said the development was in essence to build residential units in a rural area.

“It’s incongruent, it’s unattractive, it continues the urbanisation of the area,” he said. “It worsens the damage to dark skies caused by Daylesford Farm.

“Over 20 years it has become a pretty densely built retail offer and visitor attraction which causes huge impact to the area.”

He said the site should be prevented from “spilling out” and further expanding its footprint.

And also said there are many cars parked at the site.

John Westerman, from Edgars planning consultancy, spoke in favour of the proposals on behalf of Daylesford Organics.

He said the firm employs around 400 people and the high cost of local housing is having a particular impact on those on low salaries.

“These jobs are important for the successful running of the business. However recruitment to these roles is proving difficult in recent years.

“The rationale for the staff cabins is to provide an initial place for them to stay during probation periods. Staff are then typically better equipped to find their own accommodation in the local area.”

He said Daylesford would like to find better alternative solutions to the staff cabins and have explored options in Moreton and Chipping Norton.

In the interim, the proposals sought a temporary planning consent for two years, he said.

However, during the debate Councillor Mark Harris (LD, Abbey) proposed rejecting the scheme in line with the council officer’s recommendation, this was seconded by Cllr Julia Judd (C, Ermin)

Cllr Harris said they are seeking permission for two years to find alternative suitable accommodation they have not been able to find over the last four years.

“When you get the gentrification of the countryside, as I think the applicant has certainly done to some extent, particularly with a large amount of holiday lets it results in no, or damn little, affordable housing,” he said.

“As the agent has said, recruitment is a challenge when you’re paying low salaries. Not only are they taking up a lot of properties which could be used for housing local people

Officers said the structures, which are subject to a planning enforcement notice, have been there for five years.

“They are still there,” an officer said. “They are still causing harm to the Cotswolds national landscape.”

Their recommendation was to reject the scheme due to its unsusttainable location in the open countryside and its impact on the Cotswold landscape. The committee voted unanimously to reject the scheme.