AN ARGUMENT has broken out over whether a couple should be able to live at their thriving poultry farm.
Andy and Karen Rafferty have asked Winchester City Council for temporary permission to live in a caravan on the 2.5-acre Denmead Poultry site, off Hambledon Road.
The caravan is used for business purposes, but the Raffertys, who live in Hamble Lane, Purbrook, say they now need to be on-site round-the-clock. It comes as the couple plan to expand the business and want to increase security following a number of break-ins.
But long-serving Denmead Councillor Patricia Stallard has raised a ‘very strong objection’ to the plan.
It comes as similar applications to live in caravans outside Denmead village have been turned down by the council amid fears of it ruining the countryside.
Meanwhile, more than 160 letters of support have been sent to Winchester council supporting the couple’s bid.
Mr Rafferty, 49, said: ‘We have been running the business for six years now and we have never asked to live here.
‘Our business has got to the point where we need to expand and get bigger. We can’t expand when we can’t live here because of the security issues.’
The farm, which sells eggs, chickens and accessories, has up to 1,000 birds, as well as pigs, lambs and goats.
The Hambledon roadworks have had a big impact and the business is now the couple’s sole income.
Should the council grant permission, the couple could live in the caravan for three years and if they prove the venture is viable, they would be able to apply to build a house.
Cllr Stallard’s objection reads: ‘The business has functioned without residence satisfactorily for over four years.
‘This application to extend the business by development represents an attempt, by stealth, to subvert the requirements of the Denmead Neighbourhood Plan, which defines this site as being part of the countryside.’
She said the bid ‘flies in the face of the wishes of the community’, which agreed the neighbourhood plan by referendum last year.
But Mr Rafferty said no ‘stealth’ was involved.
Brian Hogg wrote to the council to support the plan. Mr Hogg, from Waterlooville, said: ‘I strongly support our local small businesses especially when one is dedicated to looking after the environment and keeping it green.’