AMBITIOUS plans for a new caravan park in Highworth, dubbed the Gateway to the Cotswolds, were heavily criticised by councillors.

The proposals for up to 40 luxury lodges on land off Pentylands Lane, currently used for horse-riding were put to Highworth councillors at a planning committee meeting.

Despite claims from a representative of the caravan park company that it could bring up to £1m pounds per year of extra revenue to the town, Highworth councillors recommended refusing the application after agreeing with the strong objections of highways and footpath, officers.

Landscape officer Charles Potterson wrote in a response to the application: “Despite my request, no landscape and visual impact assessment has been submitted. The landscape-based discussion in the design and access statement do not properly address any of the landscape issues or likely impacts and, frankly, a picture of a robin and a hedgehog don’t add anything to assist me in this regard.”

Coun Keith Smith said: “I can’t under any circumstances agree to this. We should tell Cotswold Gateway Park to come back when they have a coherent application that responds to the concerns of each officer.”

Mayor Julia Bishop wanted more details about the park and Coun Nick Gardiner voiced concerns about the traffic load it would add onto the one-lane track in the field.

Chris Parker spoke on behalf of the developers about the merits of the plan at the start of the meeting on Wednesday, but did not stay to hear the refusal recommendation.

He told the councillors: “This is all about bringing in money for the town, the high street will purely benefit from this and 20 local businesses support it. People from south-east England want to get away from the hustle and bustle of the city and they shop around where they’re staying.

“For these holidays, we estimate that £100 would be spent locally per cabin per day, which at full capacity would be £1 million a year in income.

“It’s environmentally-friendly because only nine per cent of the land will be used for the lodges, we will support the ideals of Pentylands Park, and the hedgerows will be largely unaffected.”

The plans originally envisioned up to 80 lodges, referred to as caravans in the application, to be built but this number was halved to reduce the project’s impact following advice from Swindon Borough Council.