Plans submitted to improve alpaca farm to Sidbury

Richard with the alpacas.

Richard with the alpacas. - Credit: Archant

Proposals to build a shop and log cabin at a Sidbury alpaca farm have been submitted to East Devon District Council (EDDC).

Pippa on a alpaca trek.

Pippa on a alpaca trek. - Credit: Archant

An application has been put forward on behalf of Richard Harris, who runs the farm with his partner Pippa Westall at The Bearhouse.

The farm was first established as a small enterprise in 2005. Since then it has grown and now has 60 alpacas in 46 acres.

The application seeks permission to build a one-and-a-half storey Scandinavian-style log cabin – which will include a shop, reception area and a farm office.

The farm already breeds stock, runs an alpaca stud service and offers alpaca trekking.

Sidbury alpacas.

Sidbury alpacas. - Credit: Archant

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It also sells a variety of products such as balls of alpaca wool, alpaca felt shoe/boot insoles, sheets of felt, raw alpaca fleeces, postcards, trekking gift vouchers and other alpaca products such as socks, scarves, gloves and other clothing items.

Pippa said: “We’ve been doing alpaca treks for about four years now and it has become very popular. We have had bookings for everything from stag and hen parties to trips for adults and children on the autism spectrum.

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“People seem to find it calming and therapeutic and some have liked it so much they have come back to do it again. It appeals to locals and holidaymakers of all ages.

“At the moment Richard lives in a mobile home on the site because someone has to be there for the alpacas. They are quite hardy when fully fleeced, but vulnerable in the wet and cold when they have been sheared and when the young are born.

“The gestation is from 11 - 13 months, which isn’t very helpful.

“They need to be kept under cover in bad weather, so have to be moved in and out quite a lot.”

Pippa said, if the go-ahead was given, it would mean Richard would be able to live in a proper house again and that they would be able to have a little shop and office to manage the business in, instead of using a mobile home.

The plans have already been backed by Sidmouth Town Council and EDDC will discuss the proposals at a future planning meeting.

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