Shropshire Star

Farm buildings built without permission will stay

A farmer who built a goat pen and a machinery store without planning permission has been told the buildings can stay after planners retrospectively approved the development.

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Shropshire Council’s planning committee was told that applicants Mr And Mrs Oakley had constructed a number of buildings and sited three shipping containers on the land at Oak Farm, Claverley before applying for retrospective permission.

As part of the complicated planning history of the parcel of land which borders Claverley Cricket Club to the south of the village, in 2021 the council had issued an enforcement notice on the site after the applicant was alleged to have changed its use from agricultural to mixed commercial storage, which was quashed on appeal in 2022.

“The applicant has often adopted the approach of undertaking work and then seeking approval retrospectively,” a report from the council’s planning officer noted.

“Clearly, this approach has not been well received by the local community, however undertaking development without planning permission is not unlawful in itself, it only becomes unlawful when an enforcement notice is served and to serve a notice it has to be expedient to do so.

“Therefore, it is important when considering the current planning application that previous misdemeanours are ignored and the decision is based solely on the planning merits of the application before the committee.”

Claverley Parish Council had objected, saying the development was “disproportionate”, and the proposal also received 38 objections from the public.

However, speaking for the applicant, Victoria Wood of agent Emery Planning told the committee that the development was “commensurate” to the agricultural operations taking place at the farm.

“The development that has taken place has been done so to meet the needs of the enterprise, the applicants established holdings and their ambitions for the site,” she said.

“The proposals relate to the construction of buildings for the purposes of agriculture, which is an appropriate form of development in the green belt in accordance with national planning policy framework.”

Council planners agreed, and recommended the scheme for approval, stating that the development of the site for agricultural purposes was consistent with planning frameworks.

Councillor Caroline Bagnall said a site visit conducted earlier in the day had demonstrated that the proposal looked “different on the ground to how it does on paper.”

“I’m not a fan of retrospective planning applications, it’s too easy to be seen as a way of circumventing the planning rules,” she said.

“However, looking at the site this morning I was impressed by the quality of the building that had taken place and the care that had been taken to ensure that the buildings were blending in with the surroundings.

“I feel that quite a lot of effort has gone into making sure this is a quality build and in the circumstances I’m minded to approve.”

The application for retrospective permission was approved by a majority vote, with none against and one abstention.