Barn conversion tantamount to isolated new dwelling

A dwelling conversion from an agricultural building in open countryside in a Gloucestershire area of outstanding natural beauty was refused for being tantamount to a new dwelling in an isolated location and harmful to the appearance and character of the area.

The mid-twentieth century barn was a substantial structure with asymmetric monopitched roof sections either side of a central curved element but was not formally identified as a heritage asset or designated heritage asset. The inspector noted there was no substantive information as to whether the structure was suitable for conversion with regard to its structural integrity. It appeared that all external materials would be replaced and a significant number of new openings for doors and windows created. The plans did not set out how the existing steel structure would be incorporated into the design proposed. The inspector therefore concluded the proposal was tantamount to the creation of a new dwelling in respect of use. 

On the basis the proposal did not fall under policy exceptions to development in the open countryside as a conversion, the inspector next considered the suitability of its location. The barn was situated 350 metres from the edge of the nearest village in an open expanse of fields with poor connectivity by foot or cycle. The inspector therefore concluded that the barn could fairly be described as isolated and not in an acceptable location for the development proposed. Finally, the inspector considered the proposal would result in a domestic appearance to the building, which could not be mitigated to an appropriate extent. The inspector found against the proposal on all three main issues, despite the substantial support for the proposal from local residents. 

An award of costs against the council was refused, the inspector considering that it had not been demonstrated that inappropriate behaviour resulting in unnecessary or wasted expenses occurred. In his view the council’s opposition to the scheme was reasonable, arrived at through appropriate procedures, and founded on sound judgements with regard to the development plan and to relevant material considerations. 

Inspector: Thomas Bristow; Written representations

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