Go-ahead given for Old Holly Farm Visitor Centre site at Cabus to become business units

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Planning permission has been granted for a former popular farm attraction near Garstang to be turned into three business units.

Wyre Borough Council gave the go-ahead for the plans at Old Holly Farm, more than a year after its owners Ian and Alison Pye had announced their decision not to re-open their farm visitor centre attraction following the Covid pandemic lock-down.

The centre, on Cabus Nook Lane, Cabus opened in 2007 and had comprised a shop, café, play barn and education room.

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Ian, who applied for the permission for the change of use of the centre buildings said: “We can retain control of the buildings and provide a diverse income for the farm. Farming is not always good – sometimes it’s good and sometimes it’s bad. It’s good to not have all your eggs in one basket.”

Ian Pye at work at Old Holly Farm, Cabus.Ian Pye at work at Old Holly Farm, Cabus.
Ian Pye at work at Old Holly Farm, Cabus.

A planning statement submitted to the council by Ian Swain of WBW Chartered Surveyors noted: “Like many businesses, the farm visitor centre has been severely affected by covid19. In particular, indoor facilities such as the café and soft play facility (that generate a significant proportion of the revenue) were not allowed to open. As a result, the entire farm visitor attraction was closed for much of the recent past. After much consideration, the decision was taken to permanently close the business.”

Family circumstances had also contributed to the decision not to re-open the centre Ian Swain advised, noting: “They now have a young family and running the farm visitor attraction (alongside their existing successful farming business) is no longer so achievable.”

Minimal alterations will be needed to the existing buildings. The report added: “The courtyard (previously used as an outdoor sitting area for customers of the farm visitor centre) will be used as a shared outdoor space for users of the business units.”

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Alison and Ian posted on the Old Holy Farm Facebook page in 2021: “We have always been proud of being both a working organic dairy farm, whilst opening our farm up with our visitor attraction on site. COVID-19 has had an impact on everyone’s lives, and during the last 12 months it has given us the chance to reflect and take stock of what we are trying to manage as a family.”