A YOUNG family have been given permission to build an agricultural barn on their Dartmoor farm.

James and Jenny Vanstone farm land at Meavy, near Yelverton, but currently have to rent buildings on an unsecure basis away from the land they farm.

Having built up their business over ten years, they currently have 2,000 sheep and 190 cattle, together with six Dartmoor ponies, and they asked for permission to build an agricultural building and associated access track which would enable them to provide somewhere to shelter their animals.

Dartmoor National Park Authority planning officers had recommended the plans be refused, saying it will not conserve or enhance what is special and locally distinctive about the historic character and it would result in an isolated development, visible and visually intrusive, detrimental to the character and appearance of this part of the Dartmoor National Park.

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But Friday morning’s planning committee meeting saw a near unanimous vote in favour of the scheme.

Mrs Vanstone told the meeting: “The proposed building cannot be seen and minimises the visual impact. We think it will enhance and conserve the area and give future generations the chance to farm on Dartmoor. Farming is part of Dartmoor’s culture heritage and conserves and enhances the landscape. We are happy to live on the edge of the land but without this building we cannot make a living farming the uplands.”

Burrator parish council had unanimously supported the plans, and Cllr Brian Wills said: “The building will have very little impact on the landscape. It will provide shelter and proper handling for cattle, which is essential in this day and age. They are a young family in the village trying to make it work and they are there to farm the land, not destroy it.”

Sally Morgan said that she couldn’t possibly support the recommendation of refusal. She added: “Dartmoor is a living environment and not a museum, and the landscape looks like it does because of farming. They need to be able to farm. We cannot stagnate and stay how we are forever. I would like to propose that we approve it.”

Peter Harper added: “I take my hat off to anyone trying to make a go of a farming business at the moment and they have jumped through every hoop we have asked them to.”

Mark Renders added: “I didn’t think there would be any detriment to the visual impact and it took me ages to see where it would be.”

Mrs Morgan said that the agricultural justification overrides any landscape concerns, and added that she didn’t think it will be detrimental to the landscape, while Stuart Barker added that approval would continue to create the heritage and culture to be enjoyed in the future.

The committee, with three abstentions, all voted against the officer recommendation to approve the application.