Wednesday, 13 November 2019

Farmer angry after council's second barn plan refusal

Farmer angry after council rejects barn plan for second time

A FARMER has criticised planning officers after his plans to build a storage barn in Wargrave were rejected for a second time.

Simon Marsden, of River Farm in Willow Lane, says he needs the two-storey building in order to protect boats and equipment.

There is already a barn on the site but it is full of equipment so the boats, which are used for maintenance of the riverbank, have to be kept out in the open. This means they are vulnerable to weather damage, theft or vandalism.

Mr Marsden claims that a new barn should be allowed under permitted development rights, which effectively grant automatic planning permission for certain types of building.

However, Wokingham Borough Council, the planning authority, says he needs to apply for full planning permission.

Mr Marsden applied for a proposed lawful development certificate, saying the law was changed in April 2018 to cover buildings such as his proposed barn.

He first made an application, including plans for a 300m track between the old and new buildings, in April but this was refused by the council.

In July he submitted a revised plan but then withdrew this following opposition from neighbours.

Now his latest application has also been turned down.

Mr Marsden claimed the council had made a mistake and he would make a claim for compensation and costs.

He said: “The law changed in 2018, giving more building area under permitted development.

“This outcome is a mistake by an uneducated planner. Because of this, I will ask the chief executive to have the application reviewed. I want to be a responsible landowner. Nobody wants to see dead trees lying in the river 40ft from the towpath.

“This is my future and I want to do the best for River Farm and the area. I bought the farm to enhance and grow a working farm, not to leave it as an unmaintained mess.”

Councillor Wayne Smith, executive member for planning and enforcement, said: “The application was refused as the proposed building requires planning permission and does not meet the criteria for permitted development.”

He added that the council’s planning officers were qualified and well trained.

Consultant Jim Bailey, of the Pegasus Group, said that Mr Marsden planned to grow organic vegetables to sell to restaurants and food suppliers.

He said: “Without the proposed storage building the farmer cannot maintain and use the correct equipment, which is required to manage River Farm. The proposal is wholly reasonable as all riverside farms require work boats to manage their banks. River Farm requires all-year round maintenance.

“One concern mentioned that the new building would lead to increased movements of equipment and lorries on the lane. However, this will not be the case.

“The building has been designed to be similar to the existing barn with black-stained wooden panelling, which would help it to blend in with its surroundings.

“Both the proposed storage building and the farm track are essential. Without them, the farmer will not be able to manage the farm in a productive, profitable and sustainable manner, thus enabling it to become a valued part of the local community.”

Residents of Willow Lane objected to the previous application, saying it would be “inappropriate” in an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty and would have a detrimental effect on the flood plain.

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