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Gloucestershire Business News

EXCLUSIVE: This is the whey: farmer seeks change of use from dairy

An historic dairy on Gloucestershire's northern fringe that has been used for milk and cheese production for more than 200 years will be repurposed as a general business – if Cotswold planners agree to the diversification bid.

Dairy Buildings is a Grade II-listed building which forms part of a complex of buildings at Pinchpool Farm, on the edge of the village of Windrush.

The farm has been run for three generations since the 1950s by the Hewett family and WIlliam Hewett now operates it for arable production. In its long-term dairy use, the building's 200 sqm working area was most recently used for goat cheese production, but that business has now departed after the Windrush Valley Goat Dairy dissolved in 2013.

Mr Hewett told Punchline-Gloucester.com: "Planning has been helpful over the years in terms of transition for the existing businesses we now host and we are keen to free the old dairy building from a stipulation that it must be used for cheese and dairy-related production."

Times have moved on, he said, adding: "We are lucky that this is an affluent area – we have a couple of carpentry workshops and an acupuncture clinic already and such business reflects the changing nature of the area.

"Because of the terrible impact of Brexit on farming, we are having to rethink our relationship with the land, though despite the weather we are seeing now, we remain optimistic this year. Farming has a way of coming right in the end."

Agent Dan Boyle told Cotswold District Council: "The applicant wishes to continue to let the premises on a commercial basis but the current permitted use is so restrictive that finding a tenant who meets the conditions of the previous change of use application is not feasible. There are other units within the site which are used for operations that fall within Class B1 Business Use prior to the changes to the Use Classes in 2020. Therefore the application, of which this statement forms part, is to allow the owner greater flexibility in the commercial letting market."

Historical details in the application show that it was originally stabling and was built in the 18th century of dressed stone in two sections both with a stone slated roof.

A Design and Access statement said: "To the rear are later buildings which in the past were used as dairy and cattle pens when the farm was a mixed dairy and arable farm. Until 2003 the farm became predominantly arable. The old dairy buildings were then tenanted to a goats cheese producer who used the milk from the goat herd which grazed on the adjoining fields so continuing the agricultural use."

No alteration, extension, or changes to the building is requested, and Mr Hewitt told Punchline that if approved, the unit would be advertised imminently to enable a discussion with prospective tenants for future use. Were any changes necessary that affected the building's listed status, a request for Listed building consent would also follow.

CDC has set a deadline for comments by July 25.

● A 2019 Rural Vibrancy Index on farm diversification from Savills in 2019 found that 45% of all farms now let out some of their infrastructure for use by non-farming business. Updating its research in autumn 2023, Savills reported that 51% of farmers now earned some for of non-farming income. 

Savills found: "Without subsidy, Defra suggests a business with an average income would have to reduce costs by 10% just to break even. Moreover, farms classified in the bottom 10% in terms of farm business income would have to reduce costs by 31% to achieve the same. Diversification represents an opportunity to develop an alternative income stream which looks to utilise business assets and spread income fluctuation risk."

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