Farmer unveils plans for luxury holiday homes at Limpenhoe

The Norfolk farm forever remembered for an iconic picture of mud-caked Lucky the lamb is soon destined to become the province of holidaymakers rather than intensive agriculture.

Pat Key, 48, who has farmed Cantley View Farm, Limpenhoe, near Cantley, for 25 years, hopes to begin work on a development of 12 luxury oak cabins, costing close to �1m, next spring.

The upmarket holiday homes, which will even come fitted with whirlpool baths, are being aimed at anglers using Mr Key's Limpenhoe Lakes as well as holidaymakers looking for a quiet getaway.

It is evisaged that the business will create extra jobs and boost trade in local shops and pubs.

As part of a scheme agreed by Broadland District Council's planning committee, unsightly farm buildings will be demolished and most of the sheep on the site will be moved to other land.

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Mr Key led a national crusade against government foot and mouth regulations in 2001 which meant his sheep could not be moved from their muddy holding to green fields at Halvergate just three miles away.

The picture of Lucky - one of 1,000 sheep floundering in the mud - led to an overnight change in government policy with Mr Key quickly gaining clearance for their slaughter under a welfare scheme.

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Compensation for his losses was put towards the excavation of two fishing lakes which now attract up to 30 anglers a day fishing for carp, tench and sturgeon in the idyllic Broadland setting.

Mr Key, who followed his father Nigel into farming, said: 'Foot and mouth had left me disillusioned with farming and I wanted to do something that would provide a pension income when I was older.'

He said over the past decade, government and EU red tape had become even more of an incumbrance for farmers and his long-term vision - over the next 20 years - was to make tourism activities the primary focus for him and his children.

'The fishing lakes have taken off amazingly. I have 12 people who have come on holiday from Doncaster for six years on the trot and they have become friends,' he said.

'With the cabins, I could see the chance to make the holiday industry an even more important part of my activities.

'I love conservation and farming and they go hand in hand. Since I dug the lakes kingfishers and woodpeckers have moved in and I have even seen a bittern down there.

'I am hoping to share this unique landscape with more holidaymakers.'

The cabins, ranging from two to six bedrooms, will have eco-friendly features including solar panels.

Mr Key will build three initially and add others as demand picks up.

He said he had received a lot of encouragement from his father who has successfully diversified himself by opening a wedding and conference business - Southwood Hall - in the neighbouring village of Southwood.

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