Property & Business - Winter 2020

PROPERTY | BUSINESS | PLANNING | ENERGY 16 Traditional Barn Conversions The English countryside changed enormously with the rise of mechanisation over the last century, ever larger farm “sheds” built to accommodate farm machinery and store large tonnages of raw materials and crops. However “traditional” farm buildings of brick or stone (usually under a pantile roof), still survive in various states of repair all over the countryside. These buildings were designed to carry-out specific tasks and not designed to be used as dwellings. However what can be sitting in a field or a yard falling down and potentially a liability, could be converted into a valuable asset. The two most commonly converted farm buildings are the late 19th century cartsheds and threshing barns, but also traditional animal blocks can be converted. Threshing Barns are generally bigger than the average modern home and have large but often too few openings. Cartsheds are long and narrow although often fully open to one side allowing lots of light into the buildings and stables and cattle sheds are often enclosed and subdivided. It can be an interesting challenge to create a good design to avoid long corridors, dark spaces or huge areas of glazing creating too much solar gain. Although sometimes challenging to achieve, a design that works can make great dwellings, holiday lets or even office accommodation and our experience of working with these buildings means we relish the challenge of both designing a good scheme and achieving planning permission. Before “cashing the asset in”, a case needs to be made to the planners submitting comments on the justification for the retention of the building, structural integrity, heritage, ecology and ensuring that the building is presented in such a way that it is accepted as a conversion and not “new build”. Finally with all the focus on global warming, the rising prices of heat and power and the running down of fossil fuels traditional farm buildings can make great eco homes. JHWalter can also advise on eco build and design, including renewable energy, to produce a future proofed home with an eye on running costs. Dependent on grants available at the time, a property can even earn an income for its owner, with previous projects taking full advantage of the receipt of payments such as Feed In Tariff’s and Renewable Heat Incentives. Steve Catney BA (Hons) Partner, Town Planner e t 01522 504330