The owners of a thriving fuel business on the outskirts of Oxhill will have to wait to see if they can build a second house on the site to help with security around the premises.
The Hoggins family has run Red Horse Fuels on Banbury Road for more than 60 years with a member of the family living there to keep an eye on a fleet of vehicles worth more than £1m.
Members of the planning committee at Stratford District Council on Wednesday (March 2) were told that another house would allow a second family member to share the security duties particularly with fuel prices on the increase.
Sarah Whalley-Hoggins explained that the business, which employs 45 people, had an annual turnover in excess of £15m
She said: “Fuel and its price and availability is making it a very high value commodity and it is inevitable that it will be targeted by both criminal gangs and petty thieves across the country.
“It is clear that we are very susceptible to the work of criminal gangs precisely because of the high value fuel products we sell and the rural and isolated location.”
The family wants to build a two-storey four-bed manager’s house as well as install CCTV and fencing at the site - a plan supported by Warwickshire Police.
Planning officer Lanica Agnew told the meeting: “As the case officer I am not satisfied that the applicant has demonstrated a functional and essential need for a rural worker to live permanently on the site as there is already an existing dwelling.
"The argument of security could be repeated on many other rural sites in the open countryside which would become dotted with isolated dwellings.”
The meeting heard that the family member currently on site had not had any leave for four years and Cllr Chris Mills (Con, Kineton) said: “One person cannot look after the whole site - it's massive - there is a lot of money involved and they are vulnerable because it is isolated.”
But Cllr Danny Kendall (Con, Wellesboune West) said: “I’m not convinced that just putting another house on site is going to provide the security that the applicant says they need. If they are asleep, how is that really a measure of security unless they are committed to making walking patrols of the site all night.”
There were concerns over the future of the two properties should permission be granted and councillors agreed to defer the matter to find out whether both could be linked to the business to stop them from being sold on the open market.