A MEETING was due to be held at the Town Hall last night over a mobile home sited off a rural lane in Fordingbridge.

Objectors have been putting leaflets around the town after becoming concerned over the two-unit mobile home off Puddleslosh Lane.

The caravan is the subject of a planning application to New Forest District Council, to site it there for three years to enable Sophia Fletcher and partner Nick Crowe to get an agricultural business off the ground.

Objectors say they fear the business will lead to extra traffic on a public bridleway, and that permission could ruin the area for people who enjoy the area for walking, riding and cycling.

One letter of objection from Jay Andrews refers to an earlier application for a site in neighbouring Marl Lane, for a Gypsy family to site their caravans, which has gone to appeal, and another farm at Tinkers Cross that has won permission for a temporary home.

She says: “It seems the whole of the area is under attack from people chancing their luck and getting under the NFDC planning laws.”

But Miss Fletcher and Mr Crowe say they are simply using agricultural land for agricultural purposes, and are appealing to the public to support their farming enterprise.

They also say they have been subjected to verbal abuse and intimidation when they are just trying to get their business, C&F Gourmet Farm Foods, started.

Miss Fletcher said: "Before we bought the land in Puddleslosh Lane, we read in the district council’s Core Strategy that it seeks to encourage agricultural enterprises and allow agricultural workers dwellings to support a rural workforce.

“When we found this empty field in an area with no special designations, we thought it would be the ideal spot to establish our new business, to supply specialist high-end foods such as goat milk and meat and elephant garlic, for which we have identified a local untapped market.”

But Charles Berridge of Marl Lane says their mobile home is “creeping intrusion” and would be “the start of the demise of the area as we know it”.

Nicki Salmond, also of Marl Lane, said permission would “set a dangerous precedent for future development of open countryside in this area”.

And Michael Wilson of Allen Water Drive said: “It may as well be a tower block, it's so ugly and out of place.”

The couple, who moved the mobile home on to the site on February 22, have promised to tone down the exterior of the mobile home after complaints.

And they are supported by several people.

Simon Noble of Southampton said: “Two young people working hard to achieve something very worthwhile. Taking measures to support wildlife conservation along the way. They deserve 100 per cent support.”

Reuben Lowe added: “I can understand local anxiety towards development with respect to recent planning applications nearby.”

But he said the land was on the market for a long time before the couple bought it and local people could have bought it themselves to stop anyone using it for agriculture. He said: “They have chosen not to do so, change is inevitable and they missed their opportunity.”

Miss Fletcher added “We knew taking care of our enterprise from a distance would involve an increase in traffic movements on Puddleslosh Lane.

“We also knew we would need to live here for the welfare of our animals, but the mobile home has not yet been lived in and is only being used as an agricultural store.

“We have asked for permission to live there, to take care of our goats and expand the business. We believe our living on the land would generate less traffic than having to visit the holding every day.

“We hope very much the council will recognise the merits of our new enterprise and give us the opportunity to play a modest part in achieving its rural strategy."