A FARM aimed at supporting the needs of disabled and vulnerable people has won planning permission in South Gloucestershire after 'hate campaign'.

A planning committee unanimously approved plans from charity Empowering Futures to use the farmland near Bury Hill to teach vulnerable children  and adults agricultural and craft skills, despite a handful of residents objecting to the development.

"The farm will offer tailored programme of activities for small groups of people , as well as farming and traditional craft techniques and therapeutic benefits from working with animals and nature," said Maria Needs, founder of Empowering Futures.

The charity’s plans for a 10m-long polytunnel and 4m-high building at Moorend Farm were opposed by 17 residents, Winterbourne Parish Council, and a local councillor, who told the planning meeting the development would “blight the local landscape”.

Following the meeting where 105 residents supported the plans, Mrs Needs said she felt “broken” by a “hate campaign” she claimed was lobbied at her by a handful of local families.

She was also angry and upset about the imposition of planning conditions she said were too expensive for the charity to afford.

The objectors raised concerns about the effect on the Green Belt, traffic, people’s enjoyment of the countryside, and their views of an ancient hill fort on Bury Hill to the north.

Due to the proximity of the Iron Age hill fort, the Council imposed a condition on the planning consent requiring the charity to develop, submit and abide by a council-approved “programme of archaeological investigation and recording for the site”.

Mrs Needs said she was unsure how the charity would overcome the planning requirement that would mean paying an archaeologist £200 to £500 a day to oversee the building works and sift through the soil as the foundations for the building were laid- but that she was determined the farm would go ahead.

Historic England raised concerns about the impact of the care farm on the hill fort, which is classified as a “scheduled ancient monument”. 

But council officers felt the benefits of the proposal outweighed the harms to both the heritage asset and the Green Belt and voted unanimously for approval, the meeting heard.