MERRY MEADOWS FARM, CORNWALL
Appeal Ref: APP/D0840/W/20/3254432
Merry Meadows Farm, Road From Junction South Of Bowling Green To Treskilling, Bowling Green, Bugle PL26 8RN
Following the refusal of planing permission for the agricultural development and residential accommodation on site at a smallholding in Bugle, Cornwall, En-Plan submitted an Appeal to the Planing Inspectorate.
Assessment of the Proposal in Policy Terms
Planning policies, proposals and decisions must seek to promote sustainable development and support the well-being of people and communities across Cornwall.
Agriculture plays a significant role in the vibrancy of local communities across Cornwall performing a social function as well as an economic function. The farming community is a key part of community life and cohesion in our rural villages and towns. In addition, agriculture provides a key source of employment for local people, particularly in peak seasons such as the harvest.
The proposed poultry and storage buildings as well as the temporary residential use will help to ensure that the farming business remains viable for future generations by improving the profitability of the business and creating further employment. It will allow the business to respond more effectively to fluctuations in the commodity and meat markets. Flexibility is vital in ensuring the longevity of farming business and, as such, the proposed development should be supported.
Adopted national and local planning policy recognises the importance of environmental sustainability in the decision making process. ‘Good design can help to ensure high environmental quality. Landscape and green infrastructure considerations are an integral part of the design process. Integrating green infrastructure is not limited to focusing on landscape and ecology, rather, consideration should be given to all features of the natural environment and how these function together to contribute toward the quality of places. This embraces the principles of ‘ecosystems services’ and sustainable management of natural resources where multiple benefits solution become an integral part of good design. In a similar manner, addressing environmental risks can make a positive contribution to environmental protection and improvement, addressing land contamination, instability and flood risk and providing for biodiversity, climate protection, improved air quality, soundscape and water resources benefits.’
It is our professional view that the proposed development complies fully with the policies contained within the National Planning Policy Framework and Cornwall Local Plan. The proposed development makes a sustainable contribution to Cornwall’s rural economy and farming community, in augmenting an existing and well established agricultural business, allowing it to react to turbulence in the commodities and meat markets and remain viable for future generations of the Edgell family.
There will be no significant negative environmental impact associated with the proposed development. The development will increase the Country’s sustainability in pork meat production reducing the reliance on imports to make up any shortfall in supply. The buildings are designed to be highly efficient and will incorporate modern ventilation and insulation systems where applicable.
NPPF para 79 replaces the previous more prescriptive tests of PPS 7 Annex A and there is therefore no requirement for a test of functional or economic viability. (See R (Embleton PC) v Northumberland CC (2013) which confirms this position. In any case, PPS 7 allowed for temporary agricultural dwellings without a viability test provided there was clear evidence of a firm intention. Notwithstanding the replacement of PPS 7, the above facts, together with the submitted business plan and financial statement, demonstrates that the applicant has every intention of developing a farm business here over the next three years, and that she needs to live on site to facilitate the growth of the business. We have however, still demonstrated a functional and financial need below that addresses any concerns the Council may have as to the applicant’s current or future intent.
The Financial Need
With regards to the financial test the enterprise has been established for 2 years and profitable for this time. There is no reason to believe that the enterprise will not remain profitable for at least the next three years where the positive trends shown in the financial statement will continue.
As a fledgling rural enterprise there is not the capital at present to allow Miss Edgell to purchase another house in the locality due to the expensive nature of local property. As such there is the need for Miss Edgell to reside on site to allow monies raised to be re-invested in the farming enterprise, which as the financial records show, has clearly been happening for the last two years.
The Functional Need
Summary of Functional Requirements
• Out of hours onsite as pigs farrow three times per year.
• Daily tending of chickens
• Daily tending of pigs.
• Out of hour emergency call outs to livestock.
• Travelling to and from the farm would be costly, lose time and would be unsustainable,
• The equipment used by the enterprise is expensive, the onsite residence is required to provide security and to ensure that the equipment is appropriately insured.
Other dwellings test
There are no existing dwellings on site that could provide the necessary accommodation, or redundant buildings which could be converted with the mobile home being the only viable option to allow this rural enterprise to develop further.
The Councils Reasons for Refusal
With regard to the reason for refusal:
“The application site sits outside of the defined settlement boundary for Bowling Green and would not represent infill or rounding off in accordance with Policy 3 of the Cornwall Local Plan Strategic Policies 2010 to 2030. The proposal would physically extend the built envelope of the nearby settlement into the adjoining countryside to the detriment of the landscape character, where the development would reduce the relatively green gap between the village and the nearby town of Bugle, harming the landscape setting of these settlements, representing an intrusion into the undeveloped countryside. In the absence of a functional need and necessary evidence being provided that the buildings and shepherds hut is justified to be on this land, or any other special circumstances to justify the development as a whole in this context, the application is not considered to represent sustainable development and would be contrary to the guidance contained in Paragraphs 8, 11, 78 and 79 of the National Planning Policy Framework 2019 and Policies 2, 3, 7, 21 and 23 of the Cornwall Local Plan Strategic Policies 2010-2030.”
The functional need demonstrated in the applicants statement overcome the assertion by the Council that there is no functional need which is ludicrous considering the livestock on site and the established agricultural holding. The recent Covid-19 crisis has demonstrated the importance of locally sourced food in the supply chain and whilst we note the holding is not of an industrial scale it is still a functioning and viable business and the applicant is asking for a temporary permission to work on the business prior to applying for a permanent dwelling. The development is wholly sustainable and any approval will give the applicant the ability to recognize the potential in the land.
With regard to the landscape character the impact of the agricultural development is negligible when one consider the buildings that can be erected under an agricultural prior approval and the applicant is more tat willing to accept a landscaping condition as part of any approval. This would mitigate any perceived detrimental impact.
The appeal aims to gain consent existing agricultural development and the gain temporary consent for an agricultural workers dwelling for three years to facilitate the growth of this sustainable rural enterprise (a fact borne out by the above sustainability appraisal).
It is considered that the proposal would not result in an unacceptable adverse impact upon the surrounding landscape, public vantage points, public rights of way or listed buildings, and a landscaping scheme is proposed as part of the proposal to ensure this will be the case.
The design and scale of the proposed buildings will preserve the local character and setting, and will reflect the scale and character of the properties in the vicinity, to comply with relevant policies of the Cornwall Local Plan.
The surrounding adjoining properties would not be affected by the development and it is our view that the existing agricultural development should be approved and the temporary consent for residential use granted to allow for this sustainable rural enterprise to become even more established in its role as a local food provider.
After representing the applicants at a Public Hearing the appeal was allowed a shown by the decision below:
"The appeal is allowed and planning permission is granted for hardstanding area and sheds for agricultural purposes and use of a mobile shepherd's hut as a temporary agricultural worker's dwelling at Merry Meadows Farm, Road From Junction South Of Bowling Green To Treskilling, Bowling Green, Bugle PL26 8RN in accordance with the terms of the application, Ref PA19/08677, dated 28 September 2019, and subject to the conditions set out in the schedule to this decision."
This is a great victory for the applicant who has sunk their life savings into the venture and the next stage En-Plan will be involved in will be assisting in discharging planing conditions and looking to help in the further development of this sustainable agricultural smallholding
If you would like to find out more about how our Planning Consultancy and Architectural Design Services can work in perfect sync to achieve a successful outcome in the planning system please CONTACT US and we will be only too happy to talk through any questions or development proposals you may have.
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