Wednesday, 19 January 2022

Farmer’s new home would narrow gap with hamlet

A NEW house could be built on farmland in Preston Crowmarsh despite concerns raised by Benson Parish Council.

Philip Chamberlain, who owns Crowmarsh Battle Farm and runs it with his sons Tim and Charles, wants to build the three-bedroom house on land north of the farm.

He and his wife would move into it and pass on the main farmhouse, which is Grade II listed, to the next
generation.

A design and access statement prepared by architects Woodfield Brady says: “They would like to remain reasonably on hand, as farming requires a lot of knowledge of the land, and to stay in the village where Mr Chamberlain has lived for decades.

“Development should respect the character of the area or have its own distinctive but complementary
character.

“The design is conceived as a simple barn-like form that runs perpendicular to the highway, presenting a narrow front elevation to the street. The form is traditional and agrarian in character with low eaves and first-floor rooms partly within the roof.

“The narrow plan width and low eaves and ridge heights ensure that it has a modest scale that respects the existing dominant farmhouse to the south.”

The parish council did not object to the application but said the new house would “adversely affect the views of the farmhouse in its rural setting” and would change the character of the area as set out in the village’s neighbourhood plan.

It added: “This application jumps the gun and could severely limit aspirations to ensure appropriate development that respects the highly valued character of the area.

“Views from the lane looking south-west towards the farmhouse show it as part of the listed farm group, with the dovecote and the roofs of the former stables and barns behind.

“The group currently stands associated with, but distinct from, the Preston Crowmarsh settlement, seemingly surrounded by fields with other modern development out of sight.

“This perception is important to the special interest of the group as a historic farmstead.

“The new house would feature strongly in these views — it would reduce the sense of rural separation and introduce an independent residential element that would distract from the historic function and appearance.

“The proposed house, as seen from the lane, would occupy approximately half of the single field to the north of Crowmarsh Battle Farm, which forms the last significant gap separating the rural and historically important farm settlement from the 20th century dwellings encroaching on it from the southern end of the hamlet of Preston Crowmarsh.

“If the application is approved, this separation gap would be reduced from 50m to just 25m with the new house appearing as encroachment on the far side of the gap.”

The neighbourhood plan notes the open areas of field and paddock as being of value not only to the historic setting and sense of separation but also to the spaced character of houses along the lane.

The council said: “These matters will be of great importance to the future of Preston Crowmarsh and Crowmarsh Battle and have been under review as part of the current revision of the neighbourhood plan.

“It is intended that the plan should provide greater clarity as to where these policies should apply but there has not yet been opportunity for consultation.”

Emily Tucker, conservation officer at South Oxfordshire District Council, the planning authority, said: “There are concerns about the closing of the gap between the historic Battle Barns site and the village of Preston Crowmarsh to the north.

“The farm was historically isolated from the ribbon development of houses to the north, having originated as a self-contained manorial complex. This isolation forms an important part of its setting and status of the group of listed buildings.

“Although this has been eroded somewhat over time by the introduction of new dwellings to the southern part of the village, the gap provided by the application site and adjacent paddock is the last field that provides this separation and would be somewhat eroded by the closing of this gap.”

Some residents are in favour of the development.

Chris and Jane Trower, who live in Long Acre, said: “The design and materials proposed are in keeping with the locality and in our opinion would not be detrimental to the overall character of Preston Crowmarsh. The use of renewable energy sources is to be applauded.”

David Rushton, a former member of the neighbourhood plan committee, said: “As a local resident, I would much prefer a limited acceptable infill build now to something less attractive in the future.

“One of the neighbourhood plan’s main concerns for Preston Crowmarsh was to retain its character as a separate settlement from Benson itself with a clear demarcation between the two — this proposal does not affect that.”

The Chamberlain family has been farming at Crowmarsh Battle Farm for four generations since 1894.

The district council is due to make a decision by December 22.

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