OWNERS of a derelict farmhouse in North East Somerset who have had their plans to redevelop it turned down five times by the council are taking the matter to appeal.

Halfway Farm’s overgrown and abandoned farmhouse, which owners say should only be entered “with extreme caution”, stands over the B131 between Chew Magna and Pensford, along with other dilapidated farm buildings. But plans to redevelop the site have been turned down five times by Bath and North East Somerset Council.

Now owners Mr and Mrs Gibson have appealed to the planning inspectorate. In an appeal statement, agent Nick Hiscox said: “Halfway Farm will be redeveloped as leaving it to fall into disrepair is not an option for the owners or a desire of the local communities, the appealed proposal offers a exceptional opportunity to create a truly sustainable development that enhances its surroundings.”

The Gibsons repeatedly attempted to get planning permission to demolish the farm buildings and build four to five homes on the site. After this was turned down for a fourth time, they applied to use permitted development rights to convert one of the barns into a house, but this was rejected too.

Despite support for the plan from Stanton Drew Parish Council, which said: “In their current state the buildings are a total eyesore.” Planning officers at Bath and North East Somerset Council said the plans to build houses on the site would have been “inappropriate” development for the green belt, and that the barn conversion could lead to more people walking along the main road.

The Gibsons rejected this reasoning, stating: “Halfway Farm is in the green belt but cannot be considered a ‘green field’ due to the dilapidated farmhouse and range of farm buildings and associated hard standings.”

Now the couple have lodged an appeal against the council’s decision to refuse both plans. In the appeal statement over the plans for five houses on the site, Mr Hiscox said: “Halfway Farm is a shadow of its former self; the farm buildings are aged with some derelict and others simply redundant due to no longer being fit for their designed purpose.

“The farmhouse is derelict and fallen into a state of disrepair as are the traditional stones barns that are also rapidly deteriorating. The farm has been in the same family ownership for many years, the appellants being the current generation of owners.”

Mr Hiscox’s statement said the council’s planning officers had been “inconsistent” and “failed to give proper consideration to a number of tangible benefits.” 

It said: “The planning authority has failed to give appropriate weight or consideration to the unanimous support of both the affected parish councils of Stanton drew and Chew Magna. Parish councils represent the communities of Chew Magna and Stanton Drew and are therefore best placed to consider the possible impacts and benefits of the proposal.”

Now the planning inspectorate will decide whether the council was right to turn the plans down.