Abolition of Regional Spatial Strategies: a planning vacuum? - Communities and Local Government Committee Contents

Writtten evidence from Mr & Mrs D Thorpe (ARSS 11)

We would appreciate it if you could bring this matter up during your committee meeting.

Too many people including ourselves have found ourselves homeless due to the planning laws.

We speak on behalf of the individuals & families that this has affected which is astonishingly quite a large amount that the planning laws be relaxed so that these wonderful & Historical buildings can be allowed to be rebuilt to aid the housing shortage.


The current process and planning rules are designed to prevent redundant or derelict farm buildings to be recovered and put into use for housing. This is particularly true in small areas of Green Belt between towns.

These buildings are of local historical interest having played an important part in the industrial development of an area.

Amend the rules to allow disused farm buildings to be rebuilt/converted using a specific volume of salvaged materials, eg local period bricks.

Currently there are an enormous number of individuals losing their planning permission because of the current very restrictive rules typically because during the work, sections of the buildings have collapsed. For the "Home on the farm scheme" to succeed a more flexible approach needs to be undertaken.

A problem with old buildings is the lack of footings leading to instability.

In some cases it is safer and more economical to demolish and rebuild using the existing materials and original plans. The result to the eye is a period building brought back into use as housing which blends in with the country scene.

If the law is relaxed the rebuilding/renovation of these buildings to their former glory, these buildings will provide housing for many families in need of housing in many cases providing much needed social housing.

In the Green Belt the visual impact would be identical to the building that was there before, hundreds of years ago and would not have any materially greater impact than the present openness. As a matter of fact by allowing these historical barns/buildings to be restored to their former glory it can only enhance the Green Belt.


We purchased a barn with planning permission in 2004 to convert to a family home for ourselves.

The council set down conditions which proved costly to meet. As a result it took time due to lack of finances to meet them. The storms of 2007 hit before the final condition had been submitted.

The planning department were notified verbally and gave advice how to proceed.

Work began as per the verbal agreement when enforcement officers turned up and stopped work.

Planning officers denied that storm damage had occurred or giving advice, the planning permission was removed.

After reapplying to rebuild the barn via a full planning application and via a Lawful development certificate (at their suggestion) both were refused and we are in effect homeless relying currently the goodwill and charity of the family.

Financially we are not in a position to employ solicitors or barristers to fight our cause. So I am having to research and prepare another planning application myself. During this research I have been amazed to find the lack of consistency in decisions across the country and the fact that decisions are really at the whim of local planners. In my case one issue is the setting of a Precedent.

I'm sure my views accord with many people who have found themselves in the same position as myself who would benefit from the relaxation of the planning straight jacket and allow what are "Historical" buildings to be rebuilt, aid the housing shortage and minimize the erosion of land for building purposes.

September 2010

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