Architect plans 'Grand Designs-style' transformation of Yorkshire farmhouse into 'dream home'

Plans to build a farm house likened to a project from TV’s Grand Designs in a village near Howden have been backed by East Riding councillors.

The Barnes Wallis Barn, in Holme Upon Spalding Moor,

Members of East Riding Council’s Western Area Planning Committee passed the plans, from architect John Rhodes, after hearing the house was “exceptionally” designed. They have now been referred to the council’s main Planning Committee.

The Barnes Wallis Barn, in Holme Upon Spalding Moor, will house Mr Rhodes and his wife Zaila while also providing work space for the architect and vet respectively.

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Plans stated it would also allow the couple to help Mr Rhodes’ sister Catherine Thompson rear sheep and cattle on the family’s Arglam Farm, in Arglam Grange. The farm was previously run by their father Michael.

How the new farmhouse could look

But council planning officers recommended the plans be refused, claiming it would be unsustainable and unsuitable for the area given its remote location.

Mr Rhodes, whose previous projects include Silverstone’s pit lanes and Leeds First Direct Arena, said he wanted to return to his farming roots after years abroad.

Mr Rhodes told the committee: “This is a personal story. I was brought up on a farm in East Yorkshire and I’ve since trained as an architect and worked all over the world. You may have seen many similar projects on Grand Designs for isolated farm houses in rural areas.

“It’s been a dream of mine to return to Spalding Moor, and I need to now more than ever to support my aging parents and sister. This has been designed so my two young boys can experience life on the farm and become the next generation of farmers.

“The house is designed to look like a barn and fit in with the surrounding area. But when you get closer you see its filled with innovative design details. The Yorkshire Design Review Panel said it featured elements of surprise.

“It has several supporters including Holme Upon Spalding Moor Parish Council. So why would East Riding Council not also support it?”

Committee Chair Coun Nigel Wilkinson, ward member for Howdenshire which covers the proposed site, said he saw no reason to judge the design as anything less than “outstanding”.

Coun Wilkinson said: “I’m on record as saying I would like more buildings like this in rural areas, especially given the East Riding itself is largely rural. I believe this will significantly enhance its surroundings. I don’t see how anyone could say this is not an innovative design.

Coun Leo Hammond, who backed the plans, said he failed to see why council officers recommended refusal.

Coun Hammond said: “This is an example of an individual and exceptional design. I don’t see it causing any harm to the local area or the farm next door, and the parish council also support it.”

Coun Ben Weeks, a committee member who also voted to pass the plans, said he was at first undecided as to whether the design was truly “exceptional”.

The plans were required to demonstrate that the design was exceptional. But several councillors said that standard was down to personal opinion.

Coun Weeks said: “From what other councillors have said these plans are very special. I’m really touched by what the applicant has said about wanting to build this for their family.

“I also like it because I see far too many applications for houses crammed into small areas in villages and towns. But I’m in two minds, not because I don’t like the design, I love it. It’s because the application is made under policy which requires the design to be exceptional.

“I’m a little uneasy but a part of me thinks let’s go for it. In the absence of a definition, I think we can say this design is exceptional.”

Plans submitted to the council stated the house was designed to hark back to traditional farm buildings.

Plans stated: “The idea is to create a benchmark of what a country family farm house could be. The current large span of agricultural buildings are functionally in line with modern agricultural practices but lack some of the romanticism of the original brick barns.

“The building will celebrate the landscape. One innovation is to create an external living room that connects with the open space of the fields and views across the horizon.”

Designs also feature a ‘sky snug’ in the attic, as well as living rooms and studies with panoramic views over the surrounding countryside.