Developer given permission to reinstate abandoned farmhouse

A DEVELOPER has finally been granted planning permission to reinstate an abandoned farmhouse in a remote part of Carmarthenshire into a four-bedroom home.

But the man, Paul Davies, claimed a requirement to pay an affordable housing contribution of nearly £28,000 had surfaced late in the planning process, and he felt that it had tied his hands.

Paul Davies said he had even put the derelict house up for sale because of the affordable housing requirement, but he has now agreed to pay it.

Mr Davies bought Blaenaufforest – south-east of Lampeter and west of the village of Ffarmers – in 2021. It came with 107 acres of land. He submitted plans to the county council to reinstate the old farmhouse, convert the adjacent outbuilding and link the two structures to create a four-bedroom home.

Planning officers turned down the application because they said evidence wasn’t provided that the building, which appears on a map from 1887 and hasn’t had a roof for more than 20 years, was “physically sound and substantially intact.”

Mr Davies, who had begun farming the land at Blaenaufforest, applied for permission again. A planning agent on his behalf said key features and the general character of the old farmhouse would be retained. Planning officers recommended it for refusal when it came before the council’s planning committee in March this year. Officers said that although a structural report had been provided, they didn’t accept its findings that the main parts the building were sound and substantially intact.

But after a long debate, councillors were minded to approve the application, subject to conditions being imposed and an affordable housing contribution being made by Mr Davies. This appears to have been the first time an affordable housing contribution was mentioned – as part of a legal agreement to be signed by Mr Davies and the council – although at this point the application had been recommended for refusal.

The application was brought back to the planning committee for a final decision on April 27, when it emerged that Blaenaufforest had been put up for sale for £450,000. No reason was given as to why. But a planning officer then told the committee that Mr Davies had very recently taken it back off the market and agreed to pay a £27,978 affordable housing contribution.

Although planning officers still recommended refusal, the committee voted to approve it. Cllr Mansel Charles said: “I very much hope that this family will keep to the promises of repairing this house and will live in this rural community for many years.”

After the meeting, Mr Davies told the Local Democracy Reporting Service that he had put Blaenaufforest up for sale because of the £27,978 affordable housing requirement, but had then agreed to pay it. “We feel as though we’ve had no choice in the matter,” he said.

Mr Davies said he expected it would take a year to complete the derelict farmhouse and outbuilding project and that he intended to live in the new four-bedroom home with his partner.

He said he had a small flock of sheep and had put up fencing, and that he would start planting hedges. He said “The land hasn’t really been touched for decades,” he said.

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