The owners of an abandoned Somerset farmhouse which should only be entered with ‘extreme caution’ have said they are ‘extremely disappointed’ the Council will not let them redevelop the site.
The derelict buildings of Halfway Farm loom over the B3130 between Chew Magna and Pensford and owners Mr and Mrs Gibson want to knock them down and build a five-home cul-de-sac.
Planning agent Nick Hiscox warned that the farm buildings, which have asbestos roofing, are “rapidly deteriorating.” He said: “The farmhouse is in a serious state of neglect and abandonment since it was last occupied and should only be entered with extreme caution.”
But, despite the support of local parish councils, Bath and North East Somerset Council has repeatedly turned down the Gibsons’ plans to redevelop the site in a planning battle which has now dragged on for two years.
A fourth planning application, submitted in June, was turned down last week.
Responding to the decision, Mr and Mrs Gibson said: “We are extremely disappointed in the way the local authority has dealt with the planning applications submitted for Halfway Farm over the past two years or so. Halfway Farm is in the green belt but can not be considered a “green field” due to the dilapidated farmhouse and range of farm buildings and associated hard standings.
“Halfway Farm sits in Chew Magna and Stanton Drew parishes and both of these Councils support the redevelopment of the site but, despite this support, the planning officer refused to refer the last two applications to the chair or vice chair of the planning committee for consideration at board level but issued refusals under delegated powers.
“Halfway Farm offers lots of potential for high quality sustainable development and biodiversity enhancements that most urban developments can only dream of. There is the potential to increase the footpath network and even remove the closest bus stop from the highway and relocate into the applicants land next to the footpaths. This in itself would encourage a greater use of public transport.
“However the benefits were dismissed by the officer who also declined an invitation for a site visit.”
In their decision to refuse, Council officers stated that redeveloping the site would be “inappropriate development” in the green belt, was in an isolated location outside of housing development boundaries, and away from services and employment, and that more ecological information was needed.
Officers also stated that there were inadequate public transport links but, commenting in support of the application, Stanton Drew Parish Council pointed out: “There is a bus stop just a few hundred yards from the proposed entrance to the application site.”
LDRS, John Wimperis