SMITHILLS Open Farm can keep its car park and ice cream shop, councillors have decided.

The farm asked to keep its 215-space car park and an agricultural building which was built at the green belt site years ago.

Visitors started using the car park after a row over a bridge leading to the farm erupted which climaxed with a stand-off between council workers and farm staff.

It later emerged that neither the car park nor the ice cream shop had planning permission in place.

Two letters of objections were sent about the plans.

Cllr Elaine Sherrington noted that the objections had come from the neighbouring Smithills Coaching House properties but said that residents should have been prepared for tractors driving nearby when they moved in.

She said: "It's the joys of moving to the countryside, darling. Keep up the good work Smithills Farm and I will be supporting this."

Councillors unanimously approved both applications but added a condition stating that if the land ceases to be used as a car park, it must be returned as a green field.