Agenda item

Application DM/2023/00063 - Conversion of barn to dwelling and installation of sewage treatment plant. Proposed Barn Conversion, Gethley Road, Parkhouse, Trellech


We considered the report of the application and late correspondence which was presented for refusal for the reasons outlined in the report.


The local Member for Mitchel Troy and Trellech United, County Councillor Richard John, attended the meeting by invitation of the Chair and outlined the following points:


·         Gethley Barn was originally built in the 1700s. Recently, the property has fallen into disrepair.


·         The applicant is an agricultural worker at Llan Y Nant Farm and wants to remain in her community but also needs to be close to the family farm itself for work and health purposes. The applicant has had serious health issues recently. The barn conversion would provide ideal accommodation for an agricultural worker.


·         Currently, the building is falling into ruin and was considered to be out of keeping with the landscape.


·         Approval of the application would provide a low impact, affordable property for a young person.


·         The application differs from other similar applications due to its proximity to the family farm and the applicant’s specific personal circumstances.


·         The proposed design is sympathetic to the building’s historic background and its rustic character is proposed to be protected.


·         The visual impact on the Wye Valley AONB is minimal and the building is proposed to be in keeping with similar barns within the area.


·         The local Member asked that the Committee considers approval of the application due to the very specific circumstances outlined.


The applicant’s agent, David Glasson, attended the meeting by invitation of the Chair and outlined the following points:


·         This is not a typical Monmouthshire barn. Research indicates that it goes back to 1765 and is a survivor of the ancient Gethley Farm hamlet.


·         Repairs have been undertaken over the years. All barns require repairs, but new uses must be found, or they will be lost.


·         The applicant has tried to unsuccessfully purchase a one bedroomed property in Devauden but is unable to obtain a mortgage as a single person with an agricultural wage. The applicant requires a permanent home for her health and work and to receive family support.


·         The proposed conversion will not impinge on the Wye Valley AONB.


·         The applicant will contribute to a Section 106 agreement if required and subject to the details.


·         The report of the application has appended a previous appeal decision for a rural enterprise dwelling, and it was considered not to be relevant for this application. It was lodged by the applicant’s father under a different policy context.


·         The application is for a conversion and should be considered under planning policy H4.


·         Policy H4 is satisfied in all respects. The report of the application is misleading in its claim that only a small part of the original walls is being retained. The majority is being retained.


·         The report of the application bears no relationship to the structure report. It was considered to be false to state that the majority of the barn required rebuilding. Barn conversions often need an element of repair allowing for up to 30% rebuilding.


·         Most barn conversions require a new roof, timbers, insulation, and slates.


·         Previous surveys did not identify evidence of bats emerging from the barn during surveys. The agent had only been advised some weeks ago regarding the need for an updated bat survey.


·         The barn is located in good draining countryside and surface water can be discharged sustainably.


·         The applicant’s agent disputes that a public footpath crosses the site.


·         This is an opportunity to retain an historic building, not only for the applicant but for posterity as part of the County’s heritage.


·         The barn conversion will provide a home for a local person who is unable to provide any affordable accommodation locally.


·         This is not a new build dwelling but a conversion. Materials used will be traditional and appropriate for the Wye Valley AONB.


·         The Agent requested that the Committee considers approval of the application. If a deferral was required for a new bat survey, the applicant would oblige.


The Development Management Area Team Manager responded as follows:


·         Planning Officers respectfully disagree with the agent’s view in respect of Policy H4.


·         Part of the barn was rebuilt in 2012 which is considered to be a new build.


·         Policy H4 does not permit building of this kind to be brought into residential use.


·         Officer advice to the Planning Committee is consistent with Planning policies since the original application.


·         This application has not been made on the basis of a TAN 6 dwelling and the consideration of TAN 6 was considered in a previous application and did not meet the tests at that time.


·         The spirit of Policy H4 has been correctly interpreted with regard to the preservation of buildings and the bringing of buildings into reuse on the basis that they are structurally sound and capable of being done so without substantial rebuilding.


The local Member for Mitchel Troy and Trellech United, County Councillor Jayne McKenna, also a Planning Committee Member, outlined the following points:


·         This is a new application with amendments, biodiversity enhancements and a new applicant.


·         The applicant has offered to enter voluntarily into a Section 106 agreement.


·         The local Member has looked at the application with a balanced approach and taken into account the guidelines.


·         Taking into account the planning history, there are more benefits than negatives to this application.


·         The barn has been standing in the open countryside for over 300 years with the footprint being established for this period. It is an old stone barn that is constructed of local stone.


·         Pictures had been shown at the site visit from 30 years ago with the barn being in good condition and having a full roof of Welsh slate. It was noted that during the 1990s the roof slates were regularly stolen leading to the deterioration of the barn and repairs had to be undertaken which has been sympathetically done and in character using local materials. Old barns will always require maintenance. 


·         The local Member questioned whether this application could be considered a new build in the open countryside as the barn had existed since the 1700s.


·         The previous application had received 12 letters of support from local residents.  The community would like to see this barn used as a residential dwelling for a local female farmer who has lived in the area all her life.


·         There are benefits to bringing this conversion into housing stock.  More houses are required in Monmouthshire, in particular for young people and those employed in agriculture and rural enterprise.


·         The applicant had applied but failed to purchase an affordable property that became available in the local area.


·         Agricultural workers are unable to buy a property in the Park House area due to high property values. The local Authority should be helping local first-time buyers to get onto the housing market to allow them to live and work locally.


·         Monmouthshire has a housing shortage and an aging demographic. Excessive house prices are pushing young people out of the County.


·         Further benefits include more council tax for the local Authority.


·         Park House is a hamlet with a small number of residents. If this building became a residence the occupants could bring a range of skills and contributions to enhance the vibrancy of this small community.


·         The applicant wishes to encourage wildlife via tree planting and a wildflower meadow as well as intending to keep bees.


·         The applicant would be able to walk to work having zero carbon emissions.


·         The applicant needs to live locally near to her work and family for health reasons and to receive family support.


·         If the application is not approved the barn is likely to continue to fall into disrepair.


·         On balance the local Member asked the committee to not just focus on the planning history of the site but to look at the many benefits that the conversion would bring to the local community and the local Authority.


·         If approved, it was suggested that a rural enterprise condition be applied to the dwelling.


·         The local Member asked for the outcome of the enforcement case to be provided and whether there was an issue with the maintenance of the barn and how it was constructed and why hadn’t it been taken down.


·         The applicant enquired how long does it take for new build to be no longer considered new.


The Development Management Area Team Manager responded as follows:


·         Planning history is a material consideration. Previous applications have been considered against planning policy.


·         Planning Policy H4 is policy and not guidance. It is to safeguard against new build development in unsustainable locations in the open countryside.


·         Part of the footprint was lost and rebuilt in 2012, which is regarded as new build.


·         Local support for the conversion is not a material planning reason to override the conflict with the Local Development Plan (LDP).


·         Additional Council tax from this property and a range of skills brought by the applicant are not material reasons to override the conflict with Policy H4.  Personal circumstances would not be a reason to override Planning Policy H4.


·         A building falling into disrepair is not a reason to allow a new build. This is contrary to Policy.


·         The application has not been submitted with a rural enterprise condition.


·         The enforcement case in 2012 was not considered in the context of a new build dwelling.


·         The amount of rebuild work in 2012 is very recent in the building’s life span and with the additional new build it is considered to be beyond the realms of conversion. Policy H4 is still not satisfied.


Having considered the report of the application and the views expressed, the following points were noted:


·         The ruined barn adds character to the landscape.


·         There is sympathy for the applicant with regard to her circumstances. However, planning considerations have to take into account the longer view. Decisions made will last many years to come.


·         The barn could be restored as a barn in order to keep it from falling further into disrepair.


·         The application is contrary to many planning policies.


·         This development in the open countryside will not only bring a house but also a driveway and the potential for hard landscaping and surrounding amenity space.


It was proposed by County Councillor Ben Callard and seconded by County Councillor Dale Rooke that application DM/2023/00063 be refused for the reasons outlined in the report.


Upon being put to the vote, the following votes were recorded:


For refusal                -           11

Against refusal         -           3

Abstentions               -           0


The proposition was carried.


We resolved that application DM/2023/00063 be refused for the reasons outlined in the report.



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