A FARM hit hard by Covid-19 hopes plans for an 80-pitch campsite will help the businesses and provide a perfect staycation for families.

Ragmarsh Farm, in Bradfield, set up a tent-only camp site on its land last year to help compensate for money lost on a burger van business due to the lockdown.

The farm created the campsite at its Shore Lane site under permitted development rights, but it has sparked concerns about the impact on the nearby area of outstanding natural beauty.

Following objections from councillors, farmer Richard Mitchell submitted formal plans for a 120-pitch site, but the plans have now been cut to just 80-pitches.

Mr Mitchell said the campsite will benefit the area.

He said: “British farming is in the doldrums - the UK farming income has fallen by £721million.

Gazette: Richard MitchellRichard Mitchell

“This has forced us, along with 62 per cent of farms, to diversify into other revenue streams to survive as a business.

“The sad fact is if small farms like us, who farm and sustain the beautiful landscape, are unable to diversify then we will be lost and taken over by conglomerates.

“Last year’s campers proved they have respect for the area and just want to come and enjoy it.

“Covid has created real financial hardship for families and people are looking to spend much needed quality time together.

“Not everyone is fortunate enough to have second homes or expensive foreign holidays.”

The site and the area of outstanding natural beauty featured on BBC Countryfile before Christmas where more than 18 million people viewed the beauty of the area.

Gazette: The site is in an Area of Outstanding Natural BeautyThe site is in an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty

Mr Mitchell added: “We’ve never disputed the area is beautiful and should be protected.

“Our concern was that it was a working farm and it needed to be a two way thing.”

Bradfield Parish Council, which opposed the application, said: “We consider the size of the proposal, its location, and the potential visitor numbers is likely to put at risk the delicate ecological balance of this area.”

It also raised concerns over the use of narrow roads, including Shore Lane and Ship Lane. The farmers say a one-way route would resolve this issue.

Tendring Council has the final say.