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Gloucestershire Business News

EXCLUSIVE: Bid for dairy conversion turns sour

A bid to convert a Cotswold milking parlour on the edge of Laurie Lee country into a house has been thrown out by planners – despite the dairy unit being out of action since 2015.

Dr Sarah Kingdom and husband Richard asked Stroud District Council for permission in January to turn the Milking Parlour building at Slade Farm, on the northern outskirts of Stroud, into a two-bedroomed home with a total of 70sq m of internal living space.

But after a visit to the farm, which is tucked away on the north side of Summer Street, Case Officer Charlie Morris filed a report overruling the bid on several counts, stating:

● Work had already begun on the two-storey Cotswold stone building before the application had been made and there was evidence that this had "materially altered the external appearance of the building".

● The proposal failed to demonstrate that the development would not result in the external dimensions of the project extending beyond the existing external dimensions.

● The area immediately beside the building that was proposed for residential purposes in association with the dwellinghouses was larger than the overall footprint of the building - and that "under the provisions of Paragraph X: Interpretations of Schedule 2, Part 3, curtilage cannot be larger than the land area occupied by the agricultural building".

The report added that "insufficient information to be able to adequately assess the impacts on protected species" had been given, mitigation measures submitted to seek to reduce the impact of the new dwelling in terms of recreational activity upon the Rodborough Common SAC and Cotswolds Beechwood SAC was "insufficient" and that the bid had been submitted "without any meaningful pre-application discussions".

In their application, Dr and Mr Kingdom stated: "The Milking Parlour sits between the now built farmhouse and the garage/parking area of 141 Summer Street, facing into the yard towards the farmhouse. None of the windows overlook any neighbours. It is a two storey building made of Cotswold stone. It has a single pitch roof sloping towards the yard with a hip at the West end.

"Our proposed plan adheres to the demand of 'conversion': the works will make the building habitable but will not change the exterior of the building in shape and structure."

Planning records show that the milking parlour was no longer used after 2015. No objections were made locally to the rejected proposal, although recent development at Slade Farm had been approved, included demolition of farm buildings and the construction of a Passivhaus in 2021.

● In November last year, the Agriculture and Horticultural Development Board, which crunches data on the number of dairy farms operating in the UK annually, said it estimated that there were 7,500 dairy producers in GB (as of October 2023). Year on year, the Board said it estimated a decline of 350 dairy producers (-4.5%) and a smaller decline of 70 producers (-0.9%) from its previous survey in April.

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