A BID to build a house for 'workers' on a Bishopsteignton vineyard, has been turned down because it would contravene planning policies.

The Old Walls Vineyard lost an appeal against a refusal of planning permission by Teignbridge Council for a home on the site, to allow closer supervision and management of the crop.

The inspector, Jessica Graham, ruled there was no agricultural justification, and that the large dwelling would harm the character of the surrounding countryside.

In their evidence to the appeal, the owners, the Dawe family, stated that the UK's 'challenging climate', necessitated very careful monitoring of the vines, to forestall damage from frost, disease and predators such as foxes, badgers, rabbits and deer.

The steepness of the slopes meant that even a small amount of rainfall could make working conditions unsafe, and frost during a critical growth stage could harm the crop, and speedy remedial action was vital.

But while Ms Graham accepted, in her report, that a significant amount of monitoring was needed during the growing season, and it was essential a worker was readily available at most times, she was not convinced it was essential in the winter months.

Concerns about security had been raised, but she maintained there was no evidence of any problems with theft or vandalism at the vineyard.

'On the basis of the evidence provided to me, I am not persuaded it is essential to the proper functioning of the enterprise that a worker be readily available at most times of the day and night on a year-round basis,' said Ms Graham.

She continued that the family had invested large amounts of time and money into the vineyard, which was well managed and tended with a great deal of care and pride. Together with the favourable reports from many of the neighbouring residents, she considered this to be convincing evidence of the appellant's professionalism and commitment to the business.

But without convincing evidence that the enterprise had made a profit in the past, or was likely to in the future, it failed the financial test for economic viability.

While the house was unlikely to increase local traffic, it would extend the built up area of Bishopsteignton beyond the village boundary which would 'harmfully erode the relatively open character of the surrounding sensitive countryside'.

'I was told that Mr and Mrs Dawe, the key workers at the vineyard, are currently living in the winery. The acceptability of this arrangement is not a matter that is before me on the context of this appeal, but I understand it is only temporary.'

Ms Graham concluded: 'I attach some weight to the evidence of local residents concerning the benefits of the vineyard for tourism in the area, and I also attach weight to the personal circumstances of Mr Dawe and his family.

'However, I find that these considerations in favour of the proposal, and the absence of any harm to highway safety, do not overcome the strong local and national policy objections to the construction of new dwellings in the countryside that are not justified in terms of agricultural need.'