Approval for the conversion of a barn on a cattle farm near Oldbury-on-Severn

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A YOUNG farmer will be able to return to the breeding farm where he was raised after the advisers authorize a barn conversion against official advice.

Chris Terrett plans to move his young family to the floodplain timber barn near Oldbury-on-Severn once it has been converted into a three-story farmhouse.

South Gloucestershire Council agents had recommended that the proposal be denied for a number of reasons, including the danger occupants of the Knights View property on Shepperdine Road would face in the event of a flood.

But members of a planning committee called the proposed grounds for refusal “laughable” and said the flood objection, submitted by the Environment Agency, could be overcome.

They heard an emotional plea from Mr Terrett, on behalf of his wife Rachel, seven year old son Harry and four year old daughter Ella.

Mr Terrett said they wanted to convert the barn so that they could live next to his parents, friends and neighbors in the small but “very close” community of Shepperdine, where his family has farmed for over 70 years.

“We want to give our young children the same education that my wife and I had,” he said. “We want them to understand the importance of the natural environment and agricultural traditions, while being able to instill in them the value of the community we know and cherish.

His voice crackling with emotion, Mr Terrett said: “It is a long-standing desire to bring my young family back to an area I call my home.”

A majority of the nine committee members voted to authorize the conversion of the barn, provided that Mr. Terrett produces a flood mitigation plan with a promise to enroll in the agency’s flood warning system.

The committee also approved the demolition of a red brick barn and the conversion of two other farm buildings into offices and additional residential space.

Officers had no issues with these aspects of the request, but said the barn conversion should be refused for a number of reasons, including poor design and damage to the landscape.

Future occupants would be disturbed by the “smell, noise and disturbance” of livestock and would not be safe in the event of a flood, they added.

The Environment Agency warned that “evacuation would be difficult, if not impossible” in the event of a major flood, putting the lives of occupants at risk and increasing the burden on emergency services, members heard.

But Tory advisers Brian Hopkinson and Sarah Pomfret, both of whom live in the floodplain, have argued strongly for the candidacy.

Cllr Hopkinson said the council must support farmers in the aftermath of Brexit.

Conservative member Sarah Pomfret said: “The reasons for rejection that are out there, for me, are laughable.”

Cllr Pomfret said in her experience that the Environment Agency will be happy as long as the house is solid and the family receives regular flood alerts and has a safe haven in the event of a flood.

“Otherwise, all of Oldbury, all of Severn Beach, all of the flood zone would have to be evacuated now,” she said. “We shouldn’t let anyone live there.”

As to the officers’ objection to “the smell, noise and inconvenience” to future occupants, she said: “It’s a farm. What else is going to be? This is what the campaign is for.

Seven of the committee members voted in favor of the nomination while two abstained.

Planning approval requires the new farm to be designated accommodation for agricultural workers to prevent it from being sold for commercial purposes to an occupant.


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