A WEYMOUTH holiday park has been given permission to build a safari-type tourism village that will target the 'glamping' market.
The Waterside Holiday Group has plans for high-spec safari tent holiday accommodation as part of its site at Bowleaze Cove.
The tents will replace 74 touring caravan and motorhome pitches in the north eastern corner of the park.
'Glamping' combines camping with luxury amenities. The three-bedroom tents include mod cons such as a dishwasher and a shower and are constructed on timber platforms.
Weymouth and Portland Borough Council's planning and traffic committee met on Wednesday to discuss the proposal.
Planning officer Chris Moscrop authored a report recommending the application's approval.
The proposal was met with local opposition however by the Sutton Poyntz Society.
The Society argued there would be a negative impact on the Dorset AONB and Jordan Valley.
The tents will stay up all year round but the applicant said this would have less impact on the landscape than caravans.
Speaking to councillors on Wednesday, Bill Egerton, secretary of the Sutton Poyntz Society, said: “When our committee considered this application we concluded that the applicant's visual impact report had underestimated the impact of these tents particularly in the winter when the site traditionally is empty.
“When you view it from a distance, the roofs all merged into a single mass, just like the roofs of the caravans.”
Applications in the past have included putting static holiday caravans on the same site.
These were refused by the council due to the effect on the surrounding countryside.
Richard Burgess, representing The Waterside Holiday Park, told the committee the proposal was a sustainable development with no policy objections to it.
He said: “It has economic advantages and has landscape advantages. The officer's report addressed the issues accurately and professionally.”
Mayor Ray Banham , a committee member, said he would be voting against the application.
He said: “The objective is to encourage people to this borough as it's a family oriented place.
“In my mind we are taking away the family from that because they can't afford that and will go elsewhere.”
Cllr Kevin Hodder said he was indifferent to the application when reading the report.
After visiting the site however he was surprised to see how well screened existing tents were.
He said: “The only objection that you could have for it is the fact that it is a permanent structure rather than a mobile white touring structure.”
After hearing each committee member's view, the majority voted in favour of the application.
Speaking after the decision, Mr Egerton said it was a 'difficult case' for the planning and traffic committee to deal with but he wasn't surprised by the outcome.