Residential farmstead conversion would harm AONB and heritage assets

The part demolition and conversion of commercial buildings and an agricultural barn to three dwellings in open countryside in east Sussex was refused for harm to the appearance and character of a listed building, an area of outstanding natural beauty and conflict with the locational and employment policies of the adopted plan, despite an accepted need for housing in the area.

The appeal site was set in a rural area designated as an area of outstanding natural beauty and was located adjacent to a grade II listed farmstead. The majority of units at the site were still in commercial use. The inspector considered the proposal was unacceptable on each of the four issues but the impacts on the AONB and adjoining listed building proved determinative in the paragraph 11d planning balance instigated because of the council’s housing shortfall for the area.

The inspector found the elevated appeal site formed a highly visible cohesive group of buildings which made a positive contribution to the wider rural landscape in which they sat with a strong connection to their rural surroundings. Overall, the inspector considered the proposed redevelopment and renovations to the buildings would have a noticeable urbanising effect because of the scale of new-build and extensions, discordant forms of new roofs, introduction of large, modern fenestration and domestic paraphernalia generally. She concluded the urbanising effect on the tranquil and remote character of the countryside would conflict with the landscape character type and lead to a significant adverse effect on the landscape character and scenic beauty of the AONB. 

Additionally, the inspector held the appeal site made an important positive contribution to the setting and very special character of the adjoining listed farmhouse, particularly as the buildings provided reminiscence of the agricultural past of the farmstead. She felt the proposed development would appear as a discordant feature that would lead to a diversion of attention from the listed farmhouse and would significantly erode the sense of separation and detachment between the farmstead and the surrounding habitation. In her view, this would cause less than substantial harm to the setting of the listed building.

In the heritage balance the inspector concluded the associated benefits arising from the provision of three additional dwellings would be modest and therefore the public benefits arising from the development would not outweigh the harm to the setting of the listed building. The inspector concluded the tilted balance did not apply because of footnote 6 of paragraph 11d and found conflict with the development plan overall.

Inspector: E Brownless; Written representations

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