Villagers will "positively welcome" house as farmer wins planning fight

Low Bank Farm, Mepal, where a farmhouse can now be built

Low Bank Farm, Mepal, where a farmhouse can now be built - Credit: ECDC Planning

Councillors agreed to allow a house to be built on an East Cambridgeshire farm, despite advice from officers who claimed it failed the test “for essential need”. 

Edward Veal can now go ahead and build a house at Low Bank Farm, Low Bank, Mepal, after the planning committee at East Cambs Council rejected advice to refuse it. 

Mr Veal will need to sign a S106 legal agreement regarding agricultural occupancy on the grounds that an essential need had been demonstrated. 

Councillors felt the “sequential test had been passed” and they told officers to draw up “suitable conditions, including a landscaping condition”. 

Ward councillor Lorna Dupre wrote to planning chiefs in February said allowing a home at Low Bank Farm would have “multiple benefits.  

“The applicant will shortly be required to move away from the holding outside the district on which he currently lives.  

“A dwelling on this site, where the applicant has been farming for some time, will provide security not just for his own agricultural operations on this site, but also for the neighbours. 

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“They positively welcome the reassurance of a new dwelling in this location. 

“It will enable Low Bank Farm to continue to benefit the local community.” 

She added: “No adverse environmental effects have been suggested, and the parish council has no objections to this completely proportionate, sympathetic, and sustainable application.” 

Planning chiefs, however, had drawn up a list of reasons why the house should not be allowed. 

They claimed it was outside the development boundary for the area and failed to meet the criteria for housing in Mepal.  

“The application fails to demonstrate an essential need for a rural workers dwelling on the site with the justification of security, the existing fishing lake or loss of tenancy not suitable as essential need,” officers told the committee. 

They said that whilst it is understood the applicant has a pending tenancy expiry, there hasn’t been the essential need demonstrated. 

Officers felt there were “reasonably available sites elsewhere within Mepal or Sutton with a lower probability of flooding. 

“The proposal by virtue of the its design, layout and scale would introduce a visually dominant form of development.  

“The design and layout of the dwelling is not sensitively designed to the rural surroundings”. 

And officers additional felt the house “will be very exposed to the countryside to the north and west, as such having a harmful prominence which also extends to Mepal Long Highway and the public footpath.  

“The proposal is considered to be of a scale, design and includes minimal landscaping which will not result in positive, complementary relationships with existing development or the countryside”.