A new farmhouse will be built on green belt land near Wolverhampton after a farm owner won a planning appeal.
The ruling overturns South Staffordshire Council’s refusal to grant permission to demolish Heath Farm at Vicarage Road in Calf Heath, near Gailey, to allow the owner to build a new four-bedroom property on land off Stable Lane.
Niall Blackie, Lead Partner for Town & Country Planning at FBC Manby Bowdler, acted on behalf of the owner, The Inglewood Investment Company Limited, to secure planning permission as a result of the appeal.
Tom Follows, of Inglewood, said that constructing a new farmhouse was vital to support the farm and replace the current property but that the council had ‘locally listed’ the old farm house in 2014.
“Heath Farm was built some time between 1859 and 1884 alongside a road, which now carries very heavy traffic,” he explained. “The farm’s old barns have been converted for housing use and the existing farmhouse, which is in very poor condition, is now some distance away from the new working farmstead making it impractical as a building to support an active agricultural business.”
Independent heritage consultant David Burton-Pye said: “In this appeal we agreed wholeheartedly that heritage assets deserve care, but the protection has to be balanced against other factors; my evidence was that Heath Farm was of low significance compared to similar properties with the same classification.”
Heath Farm, South Staffordshire as it currently stands
New plan for four-bedroom property on Stable Lane
Experts from Savills supported the arguments made by FBC Manby Bowdler, providing planning, agricultural and valuation evidence about the need for the new farmhouse.
Niall Blackie explained that the council had argued that there was a presumption in favour of retaining locally listed buildings, and added: “The inspector agreed with my submission that there was no national policy support for their argument, and that locally listed buildings are on the ‘lowest rung’ of the hierarchy of heritage assets.
“He applied the balanced approach of the national policy and accepted the evidence we had brought outweighed the low significance of the building.”
Paul Hutchinson, Director of Rural, Energy & Projects Division at Savills in Lichfield, said that: “The poor condition of the existing farmhouse meant that it would be too costly to repair against the potential return on investment for the owner. The new four-bedroom property will enhance security and efficiency for the farm operator and provide much improved living conditions.”
Rebecca McAllister, Head of Planning at Savills in Reading, said: “The council had to accept that the replacement farmhouse was not materially larger than the current Heath Farm and would have no greater impact on the openness of the Green Belt than the existing property.”
Niall Blackie added that the case was important because it showed that a local listing should not prevent a development if there were good arguments to support the proposal.
He said: “The key here was to ensure that when we came to the hearing, the inspector was given clear explanations for each of our arguments, supported by evidence from acknowledged experts, so that the balance presented was clear cut.”
If you would like more information regards planning appeals or have a case that may require specialist advice, please contact Niall on 01952 211320 or firstname.lastname@example.org