‘BEMUSEMENT’ reigns after a senior member of Hampshire County Council admitted to breaching planning conditions at his Chilbolton home for more than ten years.

County council cabinet member for culture, recreation and countryside Councillor Andrew Gibson moved into Test Valley Farm in 2006 which is subject to a number of conditions including that the occupant must be employed in agriculture, forestry or equestrian activities.

Cllr Gibson has now submitted an application to Test Valley Borough Council declaring he has never been employed in the industry and wishing to obtain a certificate of lawful development to allow any occupant to live in the property.

However, neighbours, Chilbolton residents and the parish council have objected to the plan and claim Cllr Gibson has been keeping cattle and chickens as a “hobby farmer” for years.

Cllr Gibson refused to comment this week when contacted but in a statement submitted with the plan said: “Since June 2006 I have resided personally in the property known as Test Valley Farm. I have been in breach of the occupation conditions attached to the property.

“I have not been employed in agriculture, forestry or equestrian activities for the duration of my time occupying the property, or at any other time in my life.

“I can confirm that between 1986 and 2015 I was employed in a senior management role by British Telecommunications and since I have been a councillor for Hampshire County Council.”

Among the 14 objections, some neighbours included photo evidence of cows on Test Valley Farm to support their statement that Cllr Gibson has been involved with agriculture.

Others are also concerned a relaxation of the farming condition could bring inappropriate development to the countryside house in future.

Drove Road resident Rosemary Farenden said: “I am shocked that the agricultural occupancy has so been so blatantly disregarded, with the obvious intention of the present application.

“Mr Gibson’s endeavours have the likely outcome of depriving Chilbolton of the opportunities to encourage local rural industry and employment.

“If this application is successful, bearing in mind the present position of the applicant, I and most of Chilbolton will be appalled.”

Station Road resident Nigel Cox added: “The cows use his buildings and I have seen people cleaning out and maintaining the buildings, this is for the benefit of the animals and also a farming activity.

“In short this is just ridiculous. The field is without question used for agriculture with the owner’s consent.”

Chilbolton Parish Council planning committee chair Jane O’Boyle also submitted an objection from the local authority.

She said: “Although Mr Gibson states that he has been in breach of the occupation conditions attached to the property, we believe that this is not the case.

“Mr Gibson has referred to himself as a “hobby farmer” and talked about his “cattle”.

“When Mr Gibson purchased Test Valley Farm he told local residents that he intended to use it for equestrian purposes, this did not happen, but cattle and chickens and sheep have been kept on the land during the time in question.

“There is great local opposition to this application especially from residents of Station Road. Many of whom feel that they were not notified of this application.

“We believe that the agricultural conditions should remain in place and that this would protect the land for future generations.”

To view the plan, go to testvalley.gov.uk/planning-and-building/viewplanningapplicationsonline and search for the reference 18/00577/CLEN.