‘Outbreak of common sense’ gets farmer green light for cowshed

Suffolk Coastal's HQ at Melton

Suffolk Coastal's HQ at Melton - Credit: Archant

District planners chose “common sense” over the professional advice of officers by allowing a farming family to build a livestock barn.

Despite officers warning that its location, size, scale and design could have a detrimental impact on the surrounding landscape, Suffolk Coastal councillors rubber-stamped the project on land west of Moat Farm, in Rendham Road, Kelsale-cum-Carlton.

Eight letters were sent to the council supporting the application, which officers nevertheless said breached four local planning policies.

Ground work began without permission last August, along with the widening of existing access to the land, construction of an earth bund, fencing and gates.

An application for that work was submitted a month later, followed by another in November for the whole project, which officers refused due to its “unacceptable visual impact” and highway safety concerns.

The latest application, which included a new access point with greater visibility, was again recommended for refusal by officers, due to the 6.2-metre tall building’s “highly exposed and visible location” on approach along Rendham Road from the east.

Son of the applicant, James Brice said he and his father bought the land to establish a small enterprise and needed to house 40 cows and their calves during the winter. He said their agent had advised them permission would “almost certainly” be granted.

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“We didn’t know we had been in breach of regulations,” he added.

“We had no objections from the public or the parish council – but several letters of support.

“An alternative site would make our business unviable. It would result in the loss of valuable grazing land.

“Without the building, we would likely be forced to abandon our livestock project. It is essential to house the animals securely during winter.”

Saxmundham district councillor, Phillip Dunnett spoke in support of the application. He said: “In order for the cattle to graze effectively, this building is urgently required.

“We owe it to a young man, trying to get a foothold in agriculture, to support him all the way.”

Councillor Tony Fryatt told fellow committee members that he could “feel an outbreak of common sense coming on”.

Andy Smith agreed, and asked: “What is the purpose of the countryside? It’s for agriculture, not for townies to go and star at vacantly.”

Ian Pratt suggested that an alternative site could stand out more than the one proposed.

Officers recommended sealing up the existing access point, which was established without consent and objected to on safety grounds.

They said the proposal contravened planning policy stating that development will not be permitted if it intrudes materially into the landscape or seriously detracts from the character of its surroundings. They said it should only be supported if it can be proven that the proposal will not have an adverse impact on the built, historic or natural environment.

In spite of all that, councillors approved the application with a new access point, which may be subject to a new planning application or enforcement.