Farmhouse planning row to be decided

A row over whether to allow a new farmhouse to be built near Wetherby looks set to finally end as planning chiefs are set to make a final decision on the site today (Thursday).

Wednesday, 26th May 2021, 12:59 pm
Councillor Ryan Stephenson, the new Conservative councillor for Harewood

An influential farmers’ union claims a farmhouse in Collingham is under threat from development, and that a new one is needed to be built urgently nearby to allow farming to continue.

But locals say a new farmhouse, on a site in Trip Lane, Linton, would severely impact on the green belt, and added that development on the current farmhouse site was now massively unlikely.

The plans, set to go before Leeds City Council’s North and East Plans Panel, involve building a four-bedroom detached house with a double garage on a greenbelt site.

A report by Leeds City Council officers said the building would be “located centrally” towards the front of a field owned by the applicant, who currently lives in a rented farmhouse off Jewitt Lane, Collingham - it added the building of the house would effectively move the farm from Collingham to nearby Linton.

The application has received 20 letters of objection from, among others, Collingham with Linton Parish Council and Linton Village society.

One of which claimed the only reasons for the house to be build was security and the threat of development, but added: “Security could be improved by installing CCTV at the barns and possibly some fencing and any fly tipping or inappropriate activity should be reported.

“The threat of development at Lilac Farm is now very low as it has not been included in the Site Allocations Plan as a strategic site, and even if it were the developer would be expected to relocate the farm buildings.

“If the application were approved a condition should be considered to plant trees to hide the barns - they have been built as industrial units and a serious blot on the landscape in a very prominent position.”

A support comment for the plans from the Tenant Farmers Association said the applicants currently ran their farming business from a rented farmhouse, and that it was uncertain how much longer this would be available to them.

It went on to claim the landlord was discussing a proposed development covering 30 acres of the 230-acre farm, which would include the farmhouse. The landlord would, under law, be allowed to evict the tenant with only three months’ notice.

It added: “Given that the possibility that the applicants could lose their farmhouse is imminent rather than just hypothetical, I would like to support this application to ensure the continued success of an established farming enterprise.”

While Leeds City Council officers recommended rejecting the application, Coun Ryan Stephenson (Con) ‘called in’ the application, saying the personal circumstances of the applicant needed to be considered.

He added: “Unlike most planning applications that are determined principally with a judgement on material planning matters, the nature of this application is one that requires a judgement to be made, in part, on the personal circumstances of the applicant and the needs of their farming business.

“Our city’s farmers, particularly tenant farmers, already operate in a volatile market dependent upon the climate, international grain markets and fluctuating rental charges from often inflexible landlords.”

Despite this, a report by Leeds City Council officers recommended the plans panel rejected the application, adding: “The proposed development would constitute inappropriate development within the green belt whilst also leading to a loss of openness and failing to assist in safeguarding the countryside from encroachment.

“No very special circumstances are considered to outweigh this harm. In particular it has not be demonstrated that an essential need for a rural worker’s dwelling on the site exists.

“The proposed development, given its nature and prominent location, would urbanise and erode an area of high quality open landscape.”

And it added: “It would be to the detriment of the character of the special landscape area and the openness of the greenbelt.”

It added that it had “not (been) demonstrated that an essential need for a rural worker’s dwelling on the site exists.”

The application will be discussed by Leeds City Council’s North and East Plans Panel today (Thursday).