Plans to build an educational World War One army camp in Hawstead have been given the go-ahead - despite concerns over increased traffic, noise and that it is a ‘disguised theme park’.
The development, in Bells Lane, by military history company Khaki Devil will include a network of trenches, visitor centre, cafe, huts containing displays as well as a coach and car parking area.
St Edmundsbury Borough Council’s development control committee yesterday approved the camp, which will be open to the public and school groups between 9am to 5pm from May to September.
However, the authority received objections from eight residents, who said the single track Bells Lane is ‘not suitable for traffic increase’ and the proposals ‘may cause damage to the village green’.
They argued the parking area is ‘too small’, there would be ‘disturbance from noise and light’ and the camp is a ‘disguised theme park’.
There was also a concern that ‘letters of support are not from local people’.
Of the 19 letters in support, six were from residents in the village. They highlighted ‘opportunities for local employment, benefits to schools and visitors and the expertise and skill of the applicants’. They also felt it was ‘appropriate due to the (World War One) centenary’.
Hawstead Parish Council backed the plans but asked for several conditions including one visiting coach per day and no permission for re-enactments or filming.
In a report to the committee, officers said conditions would ‘mitigate against substantial or long term damage to trees and wildlife’ and ‘adverse impacts on residential amenity would be limited’.
Taff Gillingham, co-director of Khaki Devil, said: “We’ve gone to a great deal of trouble to talk with all the locals. We’ve done our best to allay fears. We’ve made sure it’s going to be a quiet site - there isn’t going to be any re-enactments, it will be shut in the winter and we will have one school party visiting at a time.”
He said next spring would be an ‘appropriate time’ to open the site.