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Fresh bid to save farmer's barn by change of use

By Western Gazette - Yeovil  |  Posted: November 17, 2012

FAMILY VENTURE: Farmer Simon Davis, second right, and his partner Cora Edwards are trying to get permission to turn their illegal barn home into a industrial unit to support their new rare breed far business. Pictured with Mathis Miener, 10-month-old Xavier Stanley Davis, and Tim Patzelt at Wagg Meadow Farm

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A farmer who was told he must destroy the barn he and his family are living in has made a fresh bid to save it.

Simon Davis lost an appeal against South Somerset District Council’s enforcement action in July and a planning inspector gave him six months to remove the unauthorised structure at Wagg Meadow Farm in High Ham.

Now he is attempting to retain the barn by applying to change its use.

Mr Davis is seeking planning permission to turn it into an industrial building with an office, along with refrigeration and packing facilities for poultry processing.

Mr Davis says he has expanded his asparagus farm business to include free range meat including rare geese, ducks and pigs.

The enforcement notice required the removal of the mobile homes from the site this month and the demolition of the barn by January 2013.

However Mr Davis has asked for the enforcement notice to be suspended while district planners consider his latest application.

The application also seeks permission for temporary accommodation on the farm for two workers, Mr Davis and partner Cora Edwards, along with their children, in two mobile homes.

Miss Edwards said: “We always wanted to use the barn for agricultural use and it just seems a waste of time to remove it.

“We didn’t have a proper justification for using it before but hopefully we will be given permission this time.

“Simon has invested £175,000 into this farm. We could have bought a house for that.

“We just want to make the farm into a viable business.

“Hopefully our neighbours will support it.”

In a design and access statement submitted to the district council, Mr Davis said the workers’ accommodation is needed in the interests of animal welfare.

The farm currently has six rare breeds of ducks, three breeds of geese, and some kunekune pigs.

The statement projects the farm will produce 4,000 ducks, 50 geese and between 16 and 32 pigs in 2013.

The application also includes the erection of a new agricultural barn.

A decision on the application is expected to be made by the district council by early January.

Val Saunders, who lives near the site with her partner said she was “surprised” by the application and said neighbours had not yet been consulted about the plans.

A spokeswoman for South Somerset District Council said the appeal decision to demolish the barn was remained in force.

“However we do have an obligation to take into account the current planning application in deciding whether to enforce the removal of the existing building,” the spokeswoman said.

“The current application is being properly considered and the outcome of this will be the major factor in deciding on the enforcement issue,” she said.

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