A FARMER will be allowed to host campers all year round despite safety concerns raised by bosses at a neighbouring railway.

Holbeck House Farm near Wolsingham received permission from Durham County Council in 2008 to operate a campsite from April to September each year.

But the council has now agreed to lift that condition meaning the site, which is only allowed touring caravans and tents, can welcome visitors all year.

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Several neighbours including the Weardale Railway objected to the condition being lifted amid fears it would mean more people using the site.

Mike Fairburn, executive general manager of the railway, said there is already a problem with visitors to the site trespassing on the railway to retrieve items, for example lost balls.

He also said the level crossing that accesses the site has been “abused” by road users constituting a “serious safety issue to both those users who abuse the crossing and the staff and passengers on the railway”.

In response, council planning officer Chris Baxter said extending the opening times for the campsite would not “intensify movements across the track by increasing numbers of visitors”.

Neighbours also feared the site could now be used to house static caravans, but Mr Baxter said the original condition for a maximum of 54 touring caravans and 21 tents would still apply.

He also said storing caravans and tents at the site would not be allowed.

The planning officer said: “Touring caravans and tents are considered to have lesser impact on surrounding landscape as, unlike static caravans, they are not permanent features on these sites and the numbers will change depending on the days of the week and time of year.

“Even though the site would be open all year, it is unlikely that the site would be at full capacity across the winter months.”

Mr Baxter said the campsite “contributes to local tourism facilities and would support the rural economy in the area”.

He said the original reason for limiting visitors to between April and September was because tents and caravans outside of those times would be clearly visible and could be an eyesore.

Site owner Carol Lister said new screening would be installed to ensure the view is protected during the autumn and winter months.