THE owners of Wookey Hole Caves have been refused permission to build new homes in the nearest village.

Wookey Hole Ltd wanted to replace a house and three park homes on the Homestead Park site in High Street with nine three-bedroom properties.

Mendip District Council’s planning board unanimously refused the application on Wednesday evening (May 11) on the grounds of "over-development” likely to damage the character of the village.

The meeting also objected to the adverse effect the scheme would have on existing residents and the lack of amenity space.

Ivor Tetley, who lives in Wookey Hole, said: “What we have here is perhaps the right place, but definitely the wrong houses.

“The development will be very visible from the road through the village and from footpaths, including the very popular West Mendip Way."

Separate plans are currently being considered for 50 new homes on Wookey Hole Road in Wells near the eastern end of the path.

Council leader Cllr Ros Wyke said the village had already seen significant development as a result of tourism.

She added: “The site is a gateway site, and Wookey Hole has very distinctive architecture, with buildings which have stood the test of time.

“It will have a distinctive impact on the skyline of Wookey Hole, and I think we should be recognising that this sort of new housing alongside these very unique homes will impact on the long-term feel of the village.

“The front gardens for these properties are virtually non-existent, and the back gardens are less than the length of a car.”

Cllr Matt Martin said: “The plan seems to be to squeeze as much cash out of this plot as possible.”

Cllr Edric Hobbs said the vehicles which would use the development’s 29 car parking spaces would add problems to an already dangerous rural road.

He said: “Nobody respects the speed limit in this village – they fly around that corner. It’s going to add a lot of blooming vehicles which aren’t needed to the area.

“This village is very visible from Arthur’s Point and other parts of the Mendips – these homes will stand out like a sore thumb.”

Wookey Hole Ltd has not said whether it intends to appeal the decision.