The owners of an Arlesey pig farm have been left facing the prospect of tearing down a farm manager’s home they have built on their land without planning consent.
They have failed in a High Court fight to keep the building, which they claim is vital for a farm manager to keep an eye on the livestock, but which the local council says was not built in compliance with obligations it had imposed.
Wheelform Properties Ltd, and its directors, Mr and Mrs David Beatham, owners of Etonbury Farm, Stotfold Road, Arlesey, had asked judge Mr Justice Cranston to quash a Government planning inspector’s decision that the farm manager’s house must go.
The Beathams began building the property without planning permission and moved into it in 2005 pending completion of their own intended home on the farm for which they had been granted planning consent.
Now the judge has ruled that the inspector’s decision should stand. This leaves the Beathams with the options of demolishing the farm manager’s house, leaving it standing and risking prosecution under a Mid Beds District Council enforcement notice or continuing with their challenge to the stance taken by the authorities by appealing to the Court of Appeal against the High Court ruling.What do you think? Post a comment below
The couple were granted planning permission in 2003 for their intended home, Lake House, which won exceptional approval as a result of the quality of its design.
A site of about three hectares with its own separate access drive, looking out over landscaped lakes, and surrounded by the 22 hectare Etonbury Farm holding was earmarked for that.
The farm has also had a mobile home on it for a resident stockman since 1993 though. And in October 2004, Mid Beds District Council indicated that it would be prepared to grant planning permission for its replacement with a farm manager’s house if Wheelform met certain obligations.
On that basis that indication, construction work started but the High Court judge was told that the obligations in question were not met and planning permission was later refused.
Nevertheless, the three-bedroom modernist house was substantially completed, apart from external cladding of the upper floor and Mr and Mrs Beatham moved into it in 2005 while Lake House continued to be built.
The company made a retrospective application for planning permission in November 2005, but this was also refused, and the Council issued an enforcement notice requiring the house to be demolished.
Wheelform appealed to the inspector, claiming it was vital to have a farm manager on site to care for the pigs.
But, rejecting the appeal, the inspector said in his findings : “In general, I am satisfied that the agricultural operations on the farm, comprising the pig unit and the arable area, and possibly including some responsibilities for the composting operation and maintenance of the landscaped areas constitute full-time employment for a stockman/manager.
“However the relatively routine work does not to my mind require workers to be readily available at most times, or on hand day and night.”
He said that, should any emergencies arise, Lake House was equally close to the pig sheds for any disturbance to be noticed. Therefore, he concluded that a farm-worker living in the village of Arlesey would be able to provide essential care for the animals at reasonably short notice.
Challenging that decision at the High Court, Wheelform argued that the inspector’s decision was unreasonable.
It claimed he had failed to appreciate the nature of the farming enterprise, and the fact that the pigs required constant vigilance.
It also argued that he had not properly directed his mind to the fact that there was a lack of available houses in the surrounding area where a farmworker could live.
However, dismissing the company’s case, the judge said that the inspector’s decision was not unreasonable, and that it was not possible to go behind any of the conclusions he had reached.
Having seen an aerial photo of Arlesey Lake taken by Steve Maddox in May 2015 I believe the house is gone.
It must b gut wrenching tho to go thro all the emotions and stress of a build , ,after having 3 extensions done myself , and extortionate expense .Always a lot more than you have budgeted for , then to have to lay out more money to have it demolished. I am not completely heartless , BUT AGREED WITH CENTRAL BEDS! It needed to come down rules are rules.