Farmer wins appeal to convert derelict barn into a house

Barn at Christchurch can be converted to house, farmer told.

Barn at Christchurch can be converted to house, farmer told. - Credit: FDC Planning

Farmer Nigel Russell won an appeal against a decision by Fenland Council who refused him permission to convert a barn into a house.  

But he lost out on an application for costs because of the way the council had allegedly acted 

Appeal inspector E Brownless said he did not consider the council had lacked co-operation or had shown “unreasonable behaviour” nor that their actions had caused Mr Russell “unnecessary or waste expense”. 

The Planning Inspectorate allowed the appeal after the council refused permission for the barn conversion adjacent to Willow Farm, Euximoor Drove, Christchurch.  

Christchurch barn can be converted to house, farmer told

Christchurch barn can be converted to house, farmer told - Credit: FDC Planning

The appeal centred around whether the proposed one-bedroom home met planning guidelines.  

He said that it was not the intention of the permitted development right to allow rebuilding work which would go beyond what is reasonably necessary for the conversion of the building to residential use.  

“It follows that it is only in instances where the existing building is structurally strong enough to take the loading which comes with the external works to provide for the residential use that the building would be considered to have the permitted development right,” he said. 

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Mr Brownless said he had looked at reports from Mr Russell showing the “structural performance” of the barn and concluded that it could be converted. 

“Whilst I have had regard to the concerns of the council, it does not appear that the council has carried out any similar assessment,” he said. 

“Nor have they viewed the foundations and therefore on the basis of the evidence provided I find there is no proper basis on which to dispute the appellant’s evidence. 

Christchurch barn conversion agreed

The barn at Christchurch that can now be converted to a house after a successful appeal - Credit: FDC Planning

“To my mind, the evidence satisfactorily demonstrates the structure is capable of bearing the load required for conversion.” 

Mr Brownless said consideration must be given to the extent of the works proposed to ensure that the proposed works would not be so extensive as to constitute the construction of a new building.  

"Having regard to the extent of the works required, I do not consider that these would amount to ‘re-building’ nor would they exceed what could reasonably be regarded as a conversion,” he said.  

And referencing a neighbour who complained about impact and access, he said that in planning terms these were “not material considerations in this instance”.