Councillors refuse permission for house made from grain silos on farm near Malton - fearing it could attract 'city commuters'

A plan to create a two-bedroom house out of eight grain silos on a farm in Ryedale has been refused over fears it could attract “commuting city dwellers”.

The innovative scheme would have seen the former structures at Home Farm in the village of Swinton near Malton converted into a energy efficient home but it fell foul of a restriction over who could buy the property.

Ryedale Council has in place a Local Needs Occupancy clause which restricts the sale of new properties in certain parts of the district to people who have lived in the local area for a set amount of time.

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The applicant, Commercial Development Projects Ltd, submitted a viability assessment to the council showing that the high cost of the conversion and the price reduction caused by the clause, approximately 15 per cent below market value, would mean the scheme could not go ahead if it was imposed.

The village of Swinton, near Malton

Despite the council’s planning officers agreeing that the clause should not be enforced and no objections to the scheme being received from the public or other parties the council’s planning committee refused the permission when it met last night.

The application went before the committee after it was called-in by Independent Group councillor Simon Thackray.

During the meeting, Coun Paul Andrews, chairman of the committee, said that a viability clause was not written into the council’s planning policy. He added that he believed the occupancy clause should be “removed forthwith” but at this time it remained in place.

Vice-chairman Coun Mike Potter (Liberal) said the development would attract people that the policy was designed to keep out.

He said: “If [the silos] are redundant and it is not viable to convert them then why do it?

“It strikes me that it is unsustainable in terms of housing needs and prices and are we just attracting yet more commuting city dwellers into the areas where our local policy says we don’t really want them. It just just seems bizarre to me.”

Planning manager Gary Housden said the council and the planning committee had previously waived the condition, including for two chapel conversions.

Mr Housden added: “We have to deal with each case on its own merits, not on a blanket basis.”

Following a vote the committee was tied at four voted for refusal and approval, leaving chairman and Independent Group member Coun Andrews to break the tie in favour of refusal by voting for a second time.

In the planning documents Silo House, as the building would have been called, would have been converted and linked by a single storey structure. Glazing would have been installed and the new build would have been designed to high energy efficiency standards.

A report prepared for the committee noted: “The silos are a prominent part of the model farmscape. The proposed development is considered to be innovative and the conversion sympathetic in that it allows the original structures to continue to be read alongside the former model farm complex.”