The community is rallying around a struggling community farm after an application for seasonal camping was refused planning consent.

Several residents had written to back the application by Fancy's Farm, saying it would help financially to support the venture.

But Dorset Council has decided the site is not suitable for Easter to end of October camping use for up to 25 pitches, although Portland Town Council has also supported the application.

Fancy's Farm, at Glacis to the rear of Verne Prison, previously said the camping use would help support the project which has been struggling financially mainly due to increased costs for animal feed.

Speaking to The Echo last February she said: "At the moment, I don’t see a future for the farm.

“We just can’t keep begging for money.”

Highways officers said the site, with narrow lanes on the approaches, was unsuitable for towed caravans and motorhomes and Natural England said the intensified use of the site was likely to be harmful to conservation objectives.

Part of the site had been used for camping since 2020 using rules which allowed the use for up to 28 days, but recent changes in legislation meant that planning permission is now required.

A planning case officer report concluded that given the special nature of the area camping use would be contrary to a series of planning and environmental policies: “It is considered that given the largely undeveloped and open landscape character of the application site that the proposed development would result in a seriously detrimental landscape impact on the open undeveloped character of this prominent visual site.

"Campervans with or without awnings or tents/canopies due to their vehicular and unnatural nature would be prominent from a number of views across a wide area and from nearby public footpaths.

"The proposal would significantly detract from the exceptional local landscape nature of open skyline with sweeping views along the coast.”

In a brief statement, Su Illsley said: "Obviously disappointed with the officer's findings especially as we have so much support for the camping and the council allow wild camping with no facilities on the car park at New ground."

Mrs Illsley said she did not wish to comment any further at this time, but said she will plan to appeal the decision made by Dorset Council.

Cllr Sandy West, Portland town councillor, said: "It is a shame because it is a fantastic place which is all self-funded but I understand we also have to think about conservation on the island.

"I am sad for them, I have great respect for everything they do at Fancy's farm, it is a fantastic place.

"It has become a bit of a national treasure on Portland and I wish them the best of luck.

"Hopefully something can be resolved soon."

Cllr Carralyn Parkes, Mayor of Portland, said: "I am surprised because I have been on a lot of holidays to Cornwall and some of the lanes you approach there are just as narrow as the ones here.

"The farm is a wonderful place to visit and it is very popular with families and children.

"It is one of the few attractions in Dorset that doesn't cost anything."

Fancy's Farm, at Glacis to the rear of Verne Prison, said in its application that the camping use would help support its work which has been struggling financially mainly due to increased costs for animal feed.

Said one Reforne resident in support: “I wholeheartedly support this application as it is good use of the site, and provides a valuable amenity for visitors as well as supporting a very popular and well-loved community farm.”

Farm operator Su Illsley said the use of part of the front of the site to host 25 pitches for caravan and camping over 28 days from Easter to the end of October, could provide the income needed to meet recent additional costs.

The farm, which has been open for 12 years, has remained free to enter and provided a home to animals such as Portland sheep, goats, donkeys and wallabies.