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Plans for camping in West Lexham, near Swaffham, to support social enterprise project approved

PUBLISHED: 14:09 12 April 2012 | UPDATED: 14:28 12 April 2012

A tree house building course at West Lexham Education Centre - from left, Henry Durham, Lucy White and Edmund Colville with the house. Picture: Matthew Usher.

A tree house building course at West Lexham Education Centre - from left, Henry Durham, Lucy White and Edmund Colville with the house. Picture: Matthew Usher.

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Plans to allow camping on a former farming estate to help support a not-for-profit social enterprise have been backed by councillors.

Edmund Colville, whose family moved into West Lexham Manor near Swaffham in 1997, told Breckland planning committee yesterday that camping would bring in income when educational courses were not held at the site, and help make the business viable.

A total of 73 people wrote to the council about the application, 53 of whom had attended courses at the site, while 10 local residents wrote in favour and 10 were against.

Some people raised concerns about access to the site, while others worried it could be used for other activities such as festivals.

West Lexham resident Lucy White, who works there, said: “If the campsite is not allowed then it will have to to cut back its expenditure to support its growth and jobs will be lost. Three people from the village are employed there.

“The general consensus in the village is it’s a positive development for the village and they are pleased to see it do well.”

Planning committee chair Elizabeth Gould said: “This is a man who is trying to protect a country house by diversifying. I think as a rural enterprise in a rural area it’s an amazing thing to see someone doing.”

Councillors unanimously approved the plans to use an area of land for camping, three tree houses, an outdoor kitchen and the conversion of part of the existing piggery to sleeping accommodation.

Speaking afterwards, Mr Colville said: “I’m very, very pleased. We hope to bring in much needed tourism money into the area, instead of it going up the coast, right out of our front door.”

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