A POPULAR Isle of Wight attraction has been granted planning permission to build more than 30 tourism pods on its site.

At a meeting of the Isle of Wight Council's planning committee this evening (Tuesday), councillors approved the plan for the new holiday accommodation at Tapnell Farm, near Freshwater, by eight votes to one.

The scheme for 32 pods, which could accommodate up to 128 at full capacity, was originally debated in June last year. Councillors supported the plans in principle, despite fears of overdevelopment.

The tourism pods are earmarked chiefly for groups associated with Camp Libertas, which offers activity holidays to children aged eight to 15 years.

The pods would be available to rent year-round, while Camp Libertas's use would mainly be during the summer months — replacing tents.

The matter was called-in and more information was requested, about disability access, the impact of nitrates and how the land would be managed, which was made available before the meeting.

Isle of Wight County Press:

When presented again, councillors were generally enthusiastic about the plans and what they offer young children, in particular.

However, although Cllr Vanessa Churchman was full of praise for what Tapnell Farm has achieved as an Island attraction, she did not like the design of the pods.

"I cannot understand how Tapnell Farm managed to produce such an ugly set of buildings," she said.

"There's absolutely nothing nice about them. You've got these little square boxes, which do nothing for the landscape. They could be vastly improved."

West Wight councillor, Peter Spink, however, questioned Tapnell Farm's assertion the land, on which the pods are to be built, were being used agriculturally, namely for silage cropping and sheep grazing, and the issue of nitrate content in the land, questioning Natural England's calculation 

"There is no evidence of agriculture in the plans. It didn't look like much agriculture going on when we did a site visit in June last year," said Cllr Spink.

Despite the plans attracting letters of support for the tourism it could potentially bring, a local jobs boost and education, Yarmouth Town Council objected to the scheme.

Among those backing the plan are Visit Isle of Wight and the Isle of Wight Chamber of Commerce.