PLANS for a major expansion of a caravan park have been refused on the grounds it would result in 'unacceptable changes' to the landscape.

A proposal to expand Hawkshead Hall Caravan Park by 50 units, being either motorhomes, caravans, or tents, have received the thumbs down from the Lake District National Park (LDNP).

The site has a lawful use for 125 tents all year round and five touring caravans from March 1 to November 7 each year.

However, plans were submitted earlier this year by Charlotte and Shaun Wood from Hawkshead Hall Caravan Park to expand the site by 50 units.

The Wood's have owned and operated Hawkshead Hall since June 1 2007 when it was acquired from the estate of Mr G Brass.

The planning statement states: "The growing size of tents, the obligatory use of awnings on caravans and motorhomes has meant that the maximum number of units has naturally coalesced to around 50 units at peak tourism times: late spring/summer/early autumn, falling away to generally single digit numbers in the shoulders of the season, with isolated New Year peaks of 20 or so.

"These out of season peaks can be accommodated on the 24 hardstandings allowing the grass annual recovery time. With the growth in scale and massing of brightly coloured tents which often appear as linked capsules, it is contended that these have a comparable landscape and visual impact to motorhomes and caravans."

However, according to the planner's report from the LDNP planning committee, the visual impact of an expanded site would go 'over and above' the effects of lawful use of the site.

It states: "The increased use of the site for caravans and motorhomes (from five units to 50 units) and for a longer season has a high landscape and visual impact, over and above the effects of the lawful use of the site.

"Whether the desire is for touring or static caravan pitches is unclear.

"The introduction of more caravans as proposed would result in unacceptable changes to the character and appearance of the local landscape as a result of the caravan’s more apparent and prominent appearance, potentially larger size, and likely presence for a longer season, than the tented camping currently permitted."

The planner's report also included concerns from Campaign to protect Rural England (FoLD) who feared the plans would have an 'increased visual and landscape impact'.

A spokesman said: "We have some concerns relating to the visual impacts and impacts on landscape character - whilst the proposal would potentially reduce the overall level of activity, it would result in an increase in the numbers of touring caravans and motorhomes allowed on the site.

"The impact on the landscape will vary depending on the precise mix of tents, tourers and motorhomes at any one time but in any event, the proposal is likely to have an increased visual and landscape impact compared to the current predominantly tented camping use."