‘FESTIVAL-STYLE’ summer camping in the grounds of St Giles House at Wimborne St Giles will go ahead again this year – without full planning permission.

An application for consent has been pulled from the planning register after months of talks which failed to reach agreement.

The camping event, which could attract thousands of people, will now take place legally using permitted development rights for six weeks from July 19th.

“The event is still going ahead under permitted development rules. The planning was taking longer than expected,” said a brief statement from the estate’s Nick Ashley-Cooper, the 12th Earl of Shaftesbury.

Concerns had been expressed about light pollution, extra traffic and noise from the campsite which comes with its own attractions, food venders and activities, including swimming and paddle-boarding in the lake. Costs vary for three and four night stays from £480 for a bell tent to £3,275 for a Nordic double tipi.

Cloud Nine, which will be running the site, say they will have around 300 tents at the St Giles House site, its biggest. It will take a week to set up the site and a week to dismantle it, eight weeks in total.

Dorset Council confirmed that the planning application has been withdrawn at the applicant’s request.

A smaller event was held in the park last year using permitted development rights which had previously been restricted to 28 days, but was extended to 56 days by the Government to help the economy recover from the pandemic. That event involved around 200 camping pitches.

The proposal for this year and next included up to 400 bell tents or safari tents and up to 440 parking spaces with an extra 350 car spaces for staff and those running food, drink and retail outlets over the summer period. The site would also provide an activity and games area for guests which could total 1,600 people at any one time.

The Dorset Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty partnership told Dorset Council the event would be on the scale of a weekend festival – but over the summer with a change of visitors every three or four days. It said that would have ‘a considerable impact’ both on the site and the area and a source of light pollution in an area recognised for its dark skies.

Historic England said that although it recognised the work done to improve the viability of the estate it remained concerned about the duration of the event.

“We… remain concerned that the size of the event combined with its duration could have harmful cumulative impacts on the (park) and its setting, and the setting to St Giles House. We also consider that, whilst visitor access is increased, the experience of the heritage assets and their setting may be compromised by the scale of the event.”

Knowlton Parish Council had written to support the event which it said would encourage tourism and provide local employment.