Buried in a consultation document issued by Eric Pickles’s Department for Communities and Local Government called Greater Flexibilities for Change of Use is a proposal to allow ‘redundant’ farm buildings in National Parks and Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty to be replaced by up to three houses – either by adapting or tearing them down and rebuilding – without the need for planning permission. Its implementation by Eric Pickles’s Department for Communities and Local Government, and relished by farm owners and property developers, is said to be “imminent”.
In the Yorkshire Dales National Park alone, there are over 4,500 field barns, mainly erected in the 18th and 19th centuries to store hay and overwinter cattle. These now risk being fundamentally altered – and often torn down and replaced, if they are not strong enough for conversion – to be turned into little clusters of housing.
Drives and hardstanding will need to be laid down for the new homes, and electricity and telephone lines slung to them. “You would have cars, washing lines, greenhouses, and everything else that goes with a home, springing up in some of the most stunning and nationally protected countryside in England,” says Peter Charlesworth, chairman of the Dales’ National Park Authority. “There would be major disruption of the landscape to install the basic infrastructure like sewer and water pipes and the park authority would be powerless to control it or prevent it from happening. Valleys full of fields dotted with stone barns could be transformed into a semi-urban environment.”
Full story from the Daily Telegraph here.