A CHARITY’S plans to set up offices and an educational centre in the Cotswolds will destroy the village’s ecology and beauty, according to local residents, writes Carmelo Garcia.
The Ernest Cook Trust wants permission to change the use of the farmhouse into offices at Court Farm in Church Road, Quenington.
They have also applied for planning permission to convert the stables into an educational space and create a parking area and access across the site.
The charity says the change of use of the farmhouse to office use will enhance the vitality of the rural economy and secure new uses for historic rural buildings and it will also help provide job opportunities.
The trust also says the educational spaces would be key to actively encouraging children and young people to learn from the land through hands-on outdoor learning opportunities on its land.
But so far, some 15 local residents have objected to the scheme.
Local resident Benjamin Corfield said the plans would hurt the environment and destroy the village’s aesthetics.
“The current site is wonderfully peaceful and starts the beautiful public footpath from Quenington to Fairford along the Coln River,” he said.
“To destroy the ecology and lump a tarmac carpark in its place seems unbelievable.
“This proposed site is going to be located right in the heart of the old part of the village, I am amazed anyone would even think of destroying the aesthetics of this location.
“Surely an education centre would benefit being in a more accessible location?”
Another local resident Anna Parry said the plans would lead to an increase in traffic in Church Road.
“The coach size used to bring candidates to the education centre will be likely to measure 12 metres in length and three metres wide,” she said.
“The road is too narrow. The parking of all vehicles using Court Farm should be as discreet as possible.”
However other residents such as Nicolas Kent said giving young people the chance to share the beauty of the village should be welcomed.
“This seems like a very careful and sympathetic development with much care being taken to enhance the present buildings,” he said.
“The Ernest Cook Trust has done excellent work with young people – some of which I have had first-hand experience – and I feel an educational facility in the village is to be welcomed.
“It is likely to bring young people into the village which will be of benefit both to the village and to them, and I cannot believe that it will result in much more traffic, and I think it sounds like an excellent and progressive idea.”
The trust was founded by Ernest Cook, grandson of the travel agency founder Thomas Cook, who was a wealthy landowner committed to ensuring his land would benefit future generations.
He placed his estates in trust before his death in 1955 and the charity offers children and young people the chance to learn from the land by experiencing it first-hand.
Last year, the trustees of Frank Gollins Trust gifted Court Farm to the Ernest Cook Trust on the understanding that the property will be used for educational purposes.
People have until August 14 to comment on the proposals on Cotswold District Council‘s planning portal.