A fledgling truffle business and a village bartering system have led to councillors allowing a Chesterton pensioner to build her own home.
Planning officers at Stratford District Council had recommended that her plans for the two bedroom bungalow, on land off Old Gated Road, be refused because there was insufficient proof that she had a strong enough link to the area and permission could only be granted if there was a local need.
But applicant Mary Cobb told yesterday's (Wednesday's) planning meeting that she worked her land for about 40 hours each week and that was likely to increase as she developed her new business.
A report presented to councillors said that although Ms Cobb’s land was used by others, no money changed hands.
It explained: “The applicant has advised that she does not generate any financial profit from the activities carried out on the land and that her primary source of income is via pension payments. Rather than receiving financial payment, the applicant is compensated through exchange of goods or services.
“Apart from maintaining the land, it is understood that the applicant owns three horses which she currently keeps on the land. No other horses are kept in stables on the land but the outdoor manege is said to be used by local horse owners and a letter has been provided from one of the horse owners to support this assertion. The land is also claimed to be used for pheasant shooting events, to provide parking for social functions and for sheep grazing.
“It is also understood that the land contains a truffle orchard and that the applicant is intending to establish her own truffle business.”
Ms Cobb confirmed that she was currently spending each day on her land, clearing brambles on the truffle orchard so that she could start selling to restaurants once they re-opened.
Cllr Andy Turner, chair of Chesterton Parish Meeting, said the application had widespread support from those living in the community.
He said: “There is support for this application from all parish residents and proactive unanimous support has been given from immediate neighbours.
“The applicant has been part of the community for over seven years. She is an important member of the community and provides equestrian training to other horse owners.”
The planning committee voted unanimously to approve the plans with Cllr Chris Mills (Con, Kineton) admitting he could see no problem with the proposed bungalow.
He said: “The lady in question owns the barns so must work in Chesterton and seems fully immersed in the community.”
Cllr Andy Crump (Con, Southam South) added: “This is a great example of the community pulling together to support a local business and entrepreneur so well done to all involved.”