Third time lucky for animal visitor centre plans?

PUBLISHED: 13:00 07 May 2011 | UPDATED: 08:46 09 May 2011

(click on image for larger view) Ollie Kent is hoping to be granted permission to build an Animal Farm Visitor Centre for kids in Mark, pictured with miniature horse Angelina.

(click on image for larger view) Ollie Kent is hoping to be granted permission to build an Animal Farm Visitor Centre for kids in Mark, pictured with miniature horse Angelina.

Archant

A KIND-HEARTED woman is hoping it will be third time lucky when the council decides on her plan to provide a ‘therapeutic’ service for disadvantaged children.

Ollie Kent bought a field in Mark two years ago, and is determined to transform it into an animal visitor centre that underprivileged youngsters from as far as Bridgwater and Bristol can visit.

And having had two previous planning applications to add facilities such as toilets, parking spaces, a path and polytunnels turned down by Sedgemoor District Council, she is hoping a revised third proposal will be accepted in the coming few weeks.

Mrs Kent said the idea for the centre first arose when she bought the land in the village two years ago.

She said: “First I thought I’d use it to keep myself busy after retirement, but then I decided that it would be good to use the space to have something that underprivileged children could use.”

“The idea would be to get children in from different charities such as bibic and Barnados, and we’ve also had interest from charities in Bridgwater and Bristol.

“Petting the animals, and being able to help grow vegetables can be very therapeutic for these children, some of whom might no even know what a pig or a goat really looks like.”

Despite support from local schools and MP Tessa Munt, the previous two proposals were turned down, with the council saying that the location was ‘unsustainable’ as it was outside the settlement boundary of the village.

The authority also said that insufficient information had been submitted to allow a full assessment of the traffic impact of the proposal.

The revised, third proposal has seen the polytunnels scrapped, while the barn has since been built as part of a separate proposal.

And Mrs Kent says that even if the third proposal is turned down, she is determined to achieve her dream and open the centre, which would be called Heart of the Community.

She added: “I’ve just got my fingers crossed that this proposal will get granted. If it’s not, then I’ll come back with another proposal.

“This could offer so much to lots of disadvantaged and underprivileged children across the South West.”

A decision from the council is expected within the next three weeks.

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