PLANNERS have allowed an rural outbuilding to be converted into a holiday let, despite fears it could turn into a house in the countryside.

Villagers in Sparsholt opposed plans by Mark Hasted for the small granary outbuilding on Watley Lane.

Planning officers recommended approval but villagers opposed the plan for the building which is currently an office.

Sue Wood, of Sparsholt Parish Council, said it would lead to increased traffic on a bridleway. She also warned it would soon become a two-bedroom house in the countryside. “This is planning permission by the back door. Sparsholt has enough B&Ss, air B&Bs and rental properties. There is no need for another one built.

“Sparsholt Parish Council in good faith supported Watley Granary in past applications. This application is a step too far. The applicant made no effort to contact neighbours, the parish council or seek pre-application advice.”

Local city councillor Caroline Horrill, raised the issue as to whether the new building would have access rights off the bridleway.

She said any attempt for it to become a separate dwelling would be strongly resisted in the village.

Mr Hasted told the committee that he had checked that the new building would have such rights.

He said he has retired from the military and income from the let would supplement his pension. He said his children had gone to the village school, where he had served a a governor and his wife as a volunteer. Military duties had meant he had had to move away.

The planning committee heard that whilst the council has a policy against new homes in the countryside except in limited circumstances, this would not be a new dwelling as such but a building that could only be used for a month at a time, three times a year.

Cllr Jane Rutter said: “I accept (villagers’) concerns but I am reassured by the applicant, Mr Hasted that he wishes to move back and have a small income from the holiday let. That is perfectly reasonable and something most of us would aspire to.”

The committee heard it was up to the neighbours and the parish council to let the council know if it was being abused. Councillors voted by seven to one in favour with one abstention.