Sunday, 01 August 2021

Financier's barn conversion plan opposed by councillors

A FARM owner has made a new bid to turn a barn into accommodation.

But the move has been opposed by parish councillors.

James Arbib, a City financier who owns Worleys Farm in Crazies Hill, wants to convert the barn into two dwellings with a single-storey extension.

One would be a four-bedroom house with a dining room, family room, reception and balcony terrace.

The other would be staff accommodation with two bedrooms, a living area and a kitchen and dining room.

A previous planning application was turned down in July as the development was deemed too big and inappropriate within the green belt.

A design statement with the latest application to Wokingham Borough Council says: “It is considered that the proposed sensitive conversion and extension of this building, along with the enlargement of the permitted garden, will have a neutral impact upon the openness of the green belt and the character and appearance of the surrounding countryside.” It adds that the extension would be in scale with the existing barn and would not be “dominant” or “overpowering”.

Under planning law, Mr Arbib is allowed to covert an agricultural building into a single home without planning permission.

But a meeting of Wargrave Parish Council heard that because the application was for two homes, he needed consent.

Council chairman Richard Bush explained: “By going from one dwelling to two they are creating a new dwelling. I feel they have got one building there and they should stick with one. If they apply for an extra one the green belt rules should apply.”

Councillor Terry Cattermole said: “We are looking at whether to support a planning application for a home within the green belt. It’s also the ephemera for two families so its impact is going to be greater.”

Councillors voted to recommended the application is refused on the grounds the new building would “impact on the openness of the green belt”.

The borough council is expected to make a decision later this month.

Mr Arbib, who lives in London, is the son of Sir Martyn Arbib, who founded Henley fund management company Invesco Perpetual. He reportedly sold his Chelsea mansion to Hugh Grant and Jemima Khan for £18 million in 2006.

Meanwhile, the owner of a poultry farm in Wargrave wants to turn a chicken shed into a home. Sophie Killoran, whose family owns Oldfield Poultry Farm, off Henley Road, has applied to convert the shed into a single storey dwelling.

The property would have four bedrooms and a large open room to accommodate a kitchen, dining room and lounge. It would also need water and electricity supplies to be installed.

A previous application was withdrawn last year after the borough council said the site could be contaminated from its use as a chicken farm. Since then an environmental survey has been carried out.

In 2012 councillors and residents opposed plans to expand the farm.

The owners had applied to build two new sheds to accommodate 2,800 more hens and increase egg production but residents said the noise and pollution created by the farm was already too bad. 

Wargrave Parish Council voted to recommend refusal of the application on grounds including the increased bulk and mass of the development and that it would be out of keeping as well as the potential increase in traffic.

The borough council said it wasn’t satisfied that the impact of the expansion on neighbours was “acceptable”.

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