An Planning Inspector has lifted a condition limiting the occupancy of a barn conversion near Winchester, ruling that the valuation of the barn put it ‘out of reach of the vast majority of rural workers’.

Permission was granted in 2007 to convert a farm building at a trout fishery in Sutton Scotney near Winchester into a dwelling. The permission was granted subject to a condition limiting the occupancy of the home to “a person working in agriculture or forestry” and their family.

The appellant sought permission to remove the condition. According to the adopted local development plan, this would only be allowed if it can be demonstrated that the property is no longer required for its original purpose.

The appellant’s position was that the house was no longer meeting a need for rural worker’s accommodation because it was not affordable to most people who would meet the occupancy condition.

The council questioned the appellant’s asking price for the property, noting that he had marketed it at the “upper end” of its valuation range. However, Inspector K Taylor argued that “this is not unusual practice when a property is sold”.

Taylor also noted that even if the asking price was “reduced significantly” it would still be likely to “remain well outside the reach of the vast majority of rural workers”.

An offer of £900,000 was made in May 2017 which subsequently increased to £950,000. The Inspector noted that this was closer to the asking price. However, this potential purchaser could not comply with the condition. She considered it reasonable for the appellant to take this into account when considering offers on the house.

Although evidence as to how the valuation had been reached “could have been more explicit”, she noted, Taylor was satisfied that the period of marketing had been “significant” and the campaign “robust”, and that there had been “very low levels of interest” in the property from prospective buyers.

On this basis she concluded that there was no need for the house to be available only to rural workers. The appeal was therefore allowed and the condition removed.

24 April 2019