RESIDENTS are fighting a successful company’s retrospective bid to expand its premises in former farm buildings in a village near York.
Villagers in Acaster Malbis have formed an action group called CARE (Conserve Acaster’s Rural Environment) to oppose PapaKata’s planning application to City of York Council to extend its headquarters at Manor Farm.
Members claim the business’s vehicles and trailers often travel through the village very late at night, in the early morning and at weekends, and equipment is often loaded, unloaded and cleaned at similar times, creating an unacceptable disturbance in a once tranquil community.
But company director Andrew Lowson says it is consulting with residents and listening to concerns in an effort to find compromises, and site owner Roger Raimes says he hopes changes can be made and a working formula agreed that will satisfy all parties.
PapaKata, which specialises in hiring out kåtas – teepee-style tents – for weddings, parties, festivals and events, has been operating for seven years from Manor Farm. During that time it has expanded rapidly, and it now employs more than 40 people at peak times.
It has submitted a retrospective application for the change of use of three agricultural buildings to light industrial use and the installation of a portable office building.
But it also wants to convert another agricultural building to light industrial use, and install a second portable office building.
CARE members, who include Matt Davies, Keith Massey and Clive Alldrick, stressed they had nothing against the business but simply believed it was in the wrong location. They claimed the peace of the village was sometimes shattered as early as 6am on a Sunday.
Mr Massey claimed: “When the vehicles come through the village, it’s like a mini-military convoy.”
Mr Raimes said that following Government policy encouraging farmers to diversify, PapaKata had originally moved into one of the farm’s obsolete buildings with full planning permission.
“Their subsequent success was rapid and beyond all expectations,” he said.
He accepted the increased activity had met with concern from the public. But he was proud of PapaKata, which had given employment to a lot of young people.
Mr Lowson said it withdrew the first application when it heard about village concerns so it could consult with residents, and a drop-in session was held yesterday in the village hall to answer questions.