September 11, 2008

Farm Home Plea Refused Yet Again


Dartmoor farmers have been refused planning permission to build an agricultural worker's home for their son for the second time.

Teignbridge councillors voted to refuse planning permission for an agricultural dwelling house on land at Little Bovey Farm just minutes after granting permission for an agricultural worker's home at a Denbury farm.

The Vooght family, from Bovey Tracey, expanded their livestock business to incorporate dairy farming and need more accommodation on their land for agricultural workers.

In January councillors voted against planning permission despite recognising 'a need' for an agricultural worker's home.

At a development control committee meeting on Monday councillors berated the Vooghts for selling off five converted barns seven years ago and said they should have saved one of the properties for a farm worker.

But a few minutes beforehand councillors voted to give planning permission for an agricultural workers home to the Heath family who own a farm at Denbury.

Speaking on behalf of the Vooght family, Nick Roberts said: "They are the third generation who have farmed this land. They are fully committed and want to start up a dairy unit. The Government's commitment to farming is equally as relevant to this application."

The 210-acre Little Bovey Farm, near Heathfield Industrial Estate, has around 300 livestock including an award-winning herd of Charolais pedigree cows.

Cllr Anna Klinkenberg said: "I objected when this came before us a couple of months ago and I do so again today. The reasons for the refusal are the same.

"They had five units seven years ago and at least one should have been retained for future use. Particularly as the applicants have children who would or could wish to carry on the family farm."

She estimated the family made about pounds750,000 through the sale of the converted barns - money the owners say was invested back into the farm.

Applicants Emma and Henry Vooght say their son James wants to start up a dairy farming business and live in his own house on their land.

Cllr Fernley Holmes said councillors should be supporting the farming community.

"I do feel we should give farming a chance. It is a hands-on situation and there needs to be someone there to do the job on the spot."

Cllr David Cox also backed the Vooght's application.

"They have a long tradition as a farming family. They are trying to diversify and go into dairy. They sold units in the past to raise funds to stay in farming so I don't think this argument about the barns is relevant."

Mrs Vooght previously told the Herald Express an independent agricultural consultant had 'established the need for another worker' before the family decided to expand into dairy farming.

The house would also have had an agricultural tie placed on it, meaning it would have to be built for the sole purpose of housing an agricultural worker for the farm.

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