THE conversion and extension of a barn to create four homes at Langton Matravers has been approved.

Dorset councillors decided the conversion, on the edge of the 28-home Spyway Orchard development, currently underway, was better looking than the farm building.

But parish councillors were unhappy about the proposal, which will see a bigger building with a higher roof on one side and, according to them, will do nothing to enhance the Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty.

The application for the conversion and enlargement of the existing Spyway Orchard Barn at Durnford Drove, Langton Matraver into four two-bed homes with six parking spaces was approved unanimously.

Council officers will now try and negotiate, at the request of councillors, an extra two parking spaces on the site and auto-blinds to close roof lights during the hours of darkness to protect from light pollution. The developers will also be told that solar panels and water butts to harvest rainwater would be appreciated.

The area planning committee heard (on Wednesday) that there had been concerns about the risk of flooding at the site, the scale of the development, its design and highway safety with access along a narrow road also used by farm vehicles.

South West Farmer: The site locationThe site location

The site is 70-80 metres south of the village on elevated land off Durnford Drove, the whole area part of the Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty.

The site sits in the corner of the adjacent 28-home Spyway Orchard development where work is currently underway.

Planning officers said they consider the impact of the development to be ‘modest’ in view of the existing developments and said approval would make good use of a redundant building, offering four homes, whether they were used for holiday lets, or as permanent homes.

The parish council had expressed concerns about replacing the existing barn roof with a higher pitched roof on one side although planning officers say much of the change will be largely shielded by surrounding trees and the property will be at a lower level, similar to the existing barn height, on the side of the lane.

The parish council also claimed the proposal will do nothing to enhance the Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty and could have an adverse effect on local biodiversity.

Purbeck councillor Alex Brenton said the conversion was better than the ‘boring’ barn which is already there although she was not convinced about how the application would deal with water run-off which she has seen gushing from the site.

She was also concerned that there appeared to be no solar panels or water butts proposed to harvest rainwater and also raised concerns about roof lights in the building where, she said, dark skies were valued and should be protected by insisting on shutters or automatic blinds to stop light escaping.

Cllr Shane Bartlett said that with no objections from any of the statutory bodies he was happy to support the development which he said would provide a building ‘more pleasant on the eye’ than the existing barn.