Friday, September 7, 2012
Phase one of a public consultation over the future of Lower Halsdon Farm has revealed the call for visitor facilities, the National Trust has said.
Residents living in Exmouth and Lympstone are to be further consulted on the future of a beauty spot left to the National Trust.
Before his death, farmer Stanley Long turned down £4million from developers for his farm and land at Lower Halsdon Farm, bordering Exmouth and Lympstone, choosing instead to leave it in his will to the National Trust in 1996, on the proviso it would benefit the community.
Phase one of a public consultation run by the trust revealed people want greater access to the land, visitor facilities and educational use.
People also want to preserve the farm as a conservation area.
The National Trust said it was keen to aim for the wishes of the public and would hold further consultation this month in a bid to fine tune future plans.
Speaking on Monday at Lympstone Parish Council, Peter Blyth, of the National Trust, said the charity aimed to involve all in the farm’s future management.
He said: “We are not going to please everybody. We are not going to try to please everybody. We want to reflect what the majority of the people want.
“We want to involve everyone.”
He added that proposing to improve facilities at the farm was the ‘least favoured’ of the consultation. He said the public feared the land faced development.
Mr Blyth allayed those fears, saying future visitor facilities, such as a tea room, would be created from refurbishing an existing building.
He said the small farm was ‘barely viable’ as a business but the consultation results could boost prospects for the tenant farmer.
“People thought we were going to build something like Darts Farm,” he said. “We are not going to build on the fields at all.
“We are not opening up the farm to lots of paths and picnicking. It’s not compatible to the farm or for the tenant.
“It’s not about the trust making money, it’s about the farmer having a business.”
Phase one of the public consultation began in October 2011 and ran until February this year.
After speaking to 400 people, the National Trust received 120 replies, which revealed people wanted greater access to the farm, more community involvement, the use of land for educational and conservational purposes, plus visitor facilities.
In a bid to achieve the four main requests, the charity said it had been working with the county council to create an access link between Lower Halsdon farm and A la Ronde via a dual-use path on the northern boundary of the farm.
The trust said it had also forged links with Exmouth Community College for educational purposes, which it hoped to extend to other youth groups.