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Gloucestershire Business News

EXCLUSIVE King Charles' neighbour in bid to build on farm

A "trailblazing' organic dairy farm just next door to King Charles' Gloucestershire retreat is set to become a small housing development with the proposed conversion of a barn and three new properties.

But if new residents moving to the upmarket Cotswold village fancy a pint, the pub has just closed.

Liz and Chris Best ran an organic dairy farm for 38 years as tenants of Gloucestershire County Council-owned Poole Farm in Leighterton, which is the next-door village to Highgrove, King Charles' home since 1980.

In 2019, the Western Daily Press reported that the couple had "blazed a trail in terms of developing techniques that benefit their animals" at the 150-acre farm.

If Cotswold District Council (CDC) agrees to a proposal outlined by Moreton-in-Marsh based Tyack Architects, an existing barn will be converted while outbuildings that surround the farm's main yard will make way for three new 'farmhouse' style homes.

Two three-bedroom and two four-bedroom units are proposed in total.

The planning bid follows the recent auction of the farm's herd of 70 organic pedigree holsteins friesians and 50 younger follower cattle by agricultural auctioneers Gwilym Richards in July 2021.

In a pre-application consultation, submitted in September 2022, and largely unchanged, Tyack Architects said Cotswold District Council's initial response had been "positive".

The Design and Access statement added: "The site layout concept has been retained while the dwellings have been developed and progressed" and stressed that a grassed area within the southwest part of the site would be "kept open to maintain the rural character of the village edge".

Layouts for each proposed house showopen plan kitchen/dining/family spaces, while the extent of the remaining accommodation varies according to the massing and form of each house.

The applicant states:

"House 1 is a feature barn echoing the larger distinctive barns found elsewhere in the village. It takes the form of a simple main barn with secondary additions. It has four bedrooms, and a separate sitting area and study.

"House 2 emulates a farmhouse, it has a main entrance element that lies parallel to its frontage with rear and side offshoots. It has four bedrooms, a traditional hall and staircase arrangement, and a separate snug and study.

"House 3 is a more modest barn that lies perpendicular to the 'Farmhouse' so it encloses the streetscape and creates a pinch point at the access into their shared yard. It is subservient in massing and scale to Houses 1 and 2 and consists of an L-shaped plan of connected barn forms. Its kitchen/dining space is formed within a single-storey rear offshoot that opens out to the south. It also has a separate sitting room, three upstairs bedrooms and a ground floor study/extra bedroom.

"House 4 is partially formed from the existing barn, its open plan main living space is created within a new, single-storey barn-like wing to the east, formed on the footprint of the existing shed-like offshoots."

But the application sadly coincides with the closure of Leighterton's village pub. The 18th century Royal Oak, in the centre of the village, was a free house and prided itself on sourcing food from within a 30-mile radius. Situated on the 615-mile Monarch's Way walk, the route that retraces King Charles II's flight from Parliamentary troops after the Battle of Worcester in 1651, the pub was the only Royal Oak along the entire walk.

Landlady Paula Weston told customers: " I have some sad news, we have decided on Wednesday 13th September to cease trading. I would like to take this opportunity to thank you for your custom, kindness and friendship."

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