PART-retrospective plans for a temporary home, forest school and mushroom business have been refused by civic chiefs.

Despite more than 30 people writing in support of the plans, Winchester City Council refused permission for the proposal for the land north of Bridge Bungalow, in Lower Road, South Wonston.

Meeting chair, Cllr Jane Rutter said she was heart broken to refuse the application but the retrospective dwelling in the countryside made it unjustified.

Applicant Jon Wright explained that he and his wife Holly moved onto their land when he lost his job following the pandemic and flooding left the pair homeless.

Hampshire Chronicle: Jon Wright speaking at the meetingJon Wright speaking at the meeting (Image: Adele Bouchard)

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He said: “There is no better place to help people reconnect with nature than a piece of land that has been left alone for years. There is nothing like it in the surrounding area. We own the land so there are no associated costs.

“We are surprised by what the officers decided and believe they have made a serious error.”

While planning officers said the mushroom enterprise was industrial, Mr Wright argued that it is an agricultural process that requires the couple to live nearby.

Hampshire Chronicle: The dwellingThe dwelling (Image: Winchester City Council)

Mr Wright said: “It’s a very intensive business and the extraction equipment has to be dealt with at all hours of the day. The difference between a few hours could be spores which ruin the whole crop.”

Mrs Wright, a level three forest school facilitator, has run Jolly Moon, which includes a forest school, nature club and children’s birthday parties, since 2021.

She said: “We are very connected to the earth and we allow children to learn about the spaces they are playing in. We let children be children.

“Being outside like this can really improve kids’ motor skills, mental health and their love for nature.”

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Cllr Rutter said: “The forest school sounds wonderful and the mushroom business sounds great.

“My heart breaks because I know how much you have put into this. There are just unsustainable issues against our local plan. The mushroom business could be done elsewhere and that can not justify a new dwelling in the countryside.”

Cllr Brian Laming said: “This is quite a difficult one because if this is agriculture, sometimes they need to live on site. The proposal is reasonable and the forest school does great work which outweighs some of the issues.”

The plan was refused at the meeting on Tuesday, December 12, with only Cllr Brian Laming voting to approve the proposal.