Negotiating our way to planning success – converting a milking parlour into a 2-bed cottage

Cotswold Barn Conversion

This interesting scheme sought to convert existing domestic garages, which had historically been used as a milking parlour, into a 2x bed cottage with ample off-street parking and a large private garden to the rear.

Following a useful pre-application meeting with Cotswold District Council, we set about preparing a comprehensive planning application which responded to the feedback from the Local Planning Authority and to the site’s challenging location, of which features included:

  • proximity to several Grade II listed buildings, of which the garages form part;
  • designation within the Cotswold AONB and a conservation area;
  • located outside of the settlement boundary.

Converting a listed building

The site was undoubtedly in a sensitive location, but given the nature of the conversion it seemed a very pragmatic response to secure the long-term future of the buildings which, in their current use, were degrading swiftly.

Due to the listed nature of the site, we had to undertake a dual application, not only seeking planning consent for the conversion and change of use, but also to secure listed building consent for the works to be carried out.

We engaged the services of the Built Heritage Consultancy.  They carefully assessed the proposed plans against the impact of the heritage asset and concluded that the proposed scheme would not harm the listed group of buildings, or the character and appearance of the conservation area. Furthermore, they agreed with our stance and further evidenced how the proposed conversion would not create adverse activity on the site and would help to future proof the buildings.

Justifying sustainable development outside the settlement boundary

Whilst the development site benefitted from its location within a popular settlement, its situation outside current defined settlement boundaries added a further level of complexity.

Local policy suggested a tentative support of rural developments, provided they met a strict set of criteria.  Not only were we able to prove that the proposed conversion would meet the necessary criteria, we also flagged:

  • how the proposed development would improve the vitality of the settlement;
  • evidenced the sustainable and accessible rural location of the site;
  • how the proposed conversion represented the development of an already domestic building on brownfield land, and would contribute towards residential brownfield land targets;
  • successfully presented relevant justifications to show that the site was not isolated.

We also identified how the proposal would directly respond to recent policy announcements in relation to rural housing targets, by boosting the supply of housing and ensuring the reuse of brownfield land.

How do planning consultants add value?

It is a question we often get asked and this case provides a key example of one of the many ways in which planning consultants add value to development schemes.  On this occasion it was through our strategic negotiation during the decision-making process.

We made early contact with the planning officer and were quick to respond to the Council’s conservation officer, who sought a considerable amount of additional information before a decision could be made.

We highlighted the onerous nature of the requests, and our fruitful discussions with the planning officer enabled us to comprehensively set out why this was not necessary given the nature of the proposal and with reference to the findings of the supporting Heritage Statement.

Furthermore, we flagged an inconsistency on the part of the LPA with reference to other application decisions in the immediate area of a similar nature, where conditions had been applied to address the matters raised.

Planning approval

We were successful in putting these points to the officer, resulting in his agreement that conditions would indeed suffice. The decision was duly issued with conditions attached regarding the detail.

We are so pleased that our application for the conversion of existing garages to a residential 2x bed cottage was approved! The permanent residential occupation of the building will ensure its long-term future maintenance and viability, whilst providing a new rural dwelling within walking distance of the centre of a successful, popular village.

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IMAGE SOURCE: Arbuthnott Ladenburg Partnership 2017