16 April 2024

Plan for caravan site at Fort Paull rejected

A proposal to turn Fort Paull into a holiday caravan park has been refused by East Riding Council’s planning committee.

In 2021 plans were submitted to change the former museum, which closed in 2020, into a 64-pitch caravan site. The 500-year-old former gun battery can be traced back to the era of King Henry VIII.

The planning hearing saw an emotional appeal from the owner of the fort, Brian Rushworth, who explained that it had been rescued from ruin and since the year 2000 had been run as a museum. However, a change in family circumstances meant that he could no longer carry on. The current proposal, he felt, was the best non-intrusive way to safeguard the site as a monument for future generations. The caravan site would result in fewer visitors than keeping the museum open would have done.

Mr Rushworth said: “Historic England has agreed with us that we desperately need to find a useful, productive financially viable use for the monument to help preserve it for future generations otherwise it will just fall to rack and ruin.”

Speaking in opposition, Ellen Milner of the Yorkshire Wildlife Trust said that her organisation had a duty to protect wildlife and bird habitats on the Humber and at the Paull Holme Strays nature reserve.

While YWT encouraged preserving public rights of way so visitors could quietly enjoy and learn about these habitats, they objected to plans such as the open caravan park which would encourage more visitors and dog walkers. Disturbance from dogs was a particular worry in such an ecologically sensitive area, she said.

Councillors also considered health and safety concerns raised by Paull Parish Council, which feared that unsupervised exploration of the site, particularly by young people, could lead to risk of falls and other dangers. Although councillors remained sympathetic to suggestions about protecting Fort Paull as a heritage asset, they felt this proposal did not sufficiently address this.

Planning committee member Cllr Denis Healy said: “This is a historic heritage asset dating back to Tudor times. This is a site that’s seen historical events take place – it deserves better than this.”

At the hearing on Monday, March 11, the application met with a unanimous vote for refusal.

Meanwhile, as previously reported, a Cumbrian museum is fundraising to save the last remaining Blackburn Beverley aircraft, which remains at the fort site.