Concerns over barn plan rules
CAROLINE CULOT Farmers and developers fear old barns in remote areas of East Anglia may be left to fall into total disrepair rather than being converted into homes if local authorities adopt tough new planning proposals.
Old barns in remote areas may be left to fall into total disrepair rather than being converted into homes if local authorities adopt tough new planning proposals.
Converting barns and other out-buildings into permanent homes - if the site is in an isolated spot and away from amenities - could be ruled out in parts of the county.
In recent years, ministers have tried to encourage farms to diversify by favouring the re-use of agricultural buildings for either business or community purposes.
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Now the latest guidelines discourage homes being built in areas remote from towns and villages.
Under proposals being considered in north Norfolk, a farm building within one kilometre of amenities like a school or shop or half a kilometre of a village would be deemed more appropriate for residential development than similar buildings further away.
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Jill Fisher, planning policy manager at North Norfolk District Council, accepted the proposals could make it difficult for people who wanted to convert barns in more remote areas.
"We do accept these buildings may fall down but we have a concern that remote, attractive areas are getting suburbanised."
However, she said the proposals were not yet firm policy - and that people's views were still being sought.
Damian Baker, currently developing a grade II-listed barn at Hemblington, near Blofield, using renewable energy, said: "My understanding is that if a barn is listed and not within a development zone, the chance of getting residential planning permission will be very slim, if at all.
"My concern is that fantastic barns around the countryside not situated in a prominent position and uneconomical for a business use are going to fall down and become a danger and an eyesore."