Proposals for seven homes in a mix of conversion and extension of a threshing barn, converted cow shed and new builds at Gore End Farm in Birchington will be discussed again by Thanet councillors.
The application from landowner St John’s College Cambridge went before planning committee members last month but despite officer recommendations to approve committee members chose to defer until a site visit could be made.
The site dates to at least 1650 and is likely to go back further to the 116th century. The plan is to convert the Grade II listed threshing barn into two houses, one three-bed and one five-bed; convert the curtilage listed cow barn to a three-bed home and build four homes – one 3-bed and three 4-bed).
The application plot sits alongside agricultural land, also owned by St John’s College Cambridge, earmarked for 1650 homes.
At the February meeting opinion on the scheme was split with Birchington councillors George Kup and Phil Fellows urging the committee to refuse the application.
Cllr Kup said: “This site has a lot of significant historical aspects. In early times Gore End was a small port. There have been prehistoric, Roman and medieval remains found in the area.”
He added: “The development would effectively erase all trace of the early history of Gore End – now Minnis Bay- whilst failing to provide any material benefit to the community.”
Cllr Kup said he was also concerned with the increase of traffic and the use of the three way traffic light system on Minnis Road which already becomes congested in the tourist season and said the small number of new houses would not be affordable for most residents.
Those views were echoed by ward councillor Phil Fellows who also raised an alternative scheme that has been proposed by the owners of Grade II listed Gore End Farmhouse – which is not part of the planning application.
They have attempted to buy the site and wan to recreate a working farmstead with wild meadow areas, bee hives, bat and bird/owl boxes, a fruit tree orchard, vegetable and fruit allotments, herb gardens, trees, and two small pasture areas for livestock. That plan includes aims to restore the two Grade II listed barns to be used for community project for groups such as primary schools, Ageless Thanet, retirement homes, adults with moderate learning disabilities, SEMH and ASD
The alternative plan would provide work experience for young people and forest school experiences for children and young people.
However, Cllr David Hart said he thought the development was imaginative and “a good use of old barns,” while Cllr Rick Everitt agreed it was “a good use of heritage assets.”
Cllr Mike Garner noted the building had been “allowed to fall into a state of disrepair,” and Cllr Linda Wright said the parish council objected and the residents association was “up in arms.”
The site is allocated for housing in the Thanet Local Plan – a 20-year blueprint for development.
The development would include the conversion of Gore End Barn which was Grade II Listed in 2000 with Historic England saying it likely dates from the 16th Century with bays added in the 17th Century.
Proposals are to replace the cart doors with new entrance doors and traditional midstreys and create an extension at the south-eastern end of the barn with conversion to two homes.
Developers say the cow shed will have the historic openings reinstated, including the dormer window affronting Minnis Road.
A new row of three cottages designed in the style of an agricultural barn and a home rebuilt on the remains of the historic L-shaped out building and dovecote, which historically formed the entrance to the site, are also planned.
Planning documents say: “The proposals offer an opportunity to preserve the historic farmstead at Gore End for future generations. The proposals seek the conversion of the existing dilapidated listed grade II barn and unlisted cow barn. The scheme also proposes to reinstate existing historic built forms on the site to form a new dwelling, extensions to the two barns and on-site carport, bicycle and bin storage. A new barn is proposed which comprises a terrace of three dwellings.”
Eleven objections have been lodged with the council against the plans citing reasons including increased traffic, concerns over the amount of land across Thanet being offered for development by St John’s College, Cambridge, disruption to wildlife; overdevelopment and the integrity of the listed barn and other historic buildings being permanently destroyed.
The application will be discussed by Thanet councillors on March 15.
See the plans by searching F/TH/22/0364 on the council’s planning portal.
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