A COUPLE say they could move house after a planning loophole allowed a large agricultural building to be built just metres from their back windows.
Dave and Di Jesinger previously looked out over an open field from their property in Canada Road, West Wellow – but are now confronted with a metallic barn structure.
The pair are so distraught they are considering selling their house, which they have owned since 1971, and have slammed the New Forest National Park Authority which permitted the building, as “totally failing” to protect their rights.
Mr Jesinger told the A&T: “We and our neighbours and everybody else in the village are dumfounded and gobsmacked this can happen.
“If you or a friend live near to designated agricultural land, it can happen to you without any warning. You could go away on holiday for two weeks and return to the trauma of a new, unsightly structure close beside your home.”
The field next to the couple, who are in their 70s, is owned by a farmer, and the application for the building was made last June under permitted development rights. The structure is 13.75 metres long, 7.9 metres wide and 4.5 metres high.
It was signed off by an NPA officer without consultation with the parish council or local residents, who had no idea a plan had been submitted.
Under changes made to the Town and Country Planning Act in 2015, permitted development means applicants have the right to erect, extend or alter a building, carry out
excavations and engineering operations for agricultural purposes.
Certain criteria apply, such as the land having to be five hectares or more in size, and details of the development may require permission.
In this case, despite the field being just more than one hectare, an NPA planning report claimed it was part of a wider 8.4-hectare holding.
Mr Jesinger said he understood two farmers had recently combined their land, adding: “This large barn is as big as a house and could have been sited anywhere within the 1.8-hectare field, provided it is more than two metres from the boundary.
“The landowner phoned us and happened to speak to my wife and said there would be a few diggers on the field next to us in the morning but not to worry, and he didn’t say what was being built or the size of it.”
He said the couple had sought legal advice and been told the NPA could have done more, such as a consultation and closer scrutiny of the barn.
They are seeking more answers and have not ruled out legal action.
In response, the NPA’s executive director for strategy and planning, Steve Avery, told the A&T: “We understand the concerns of residents but planning legislation allows landowners to erect farm buildings without planning permission – known as permitted development rights – subject to them following a prior notification procedure.
“A ‘prior notification’ application is very different to a normal planning application and does not require public consultation.
“Providing qualifying criteria are met in terms of size and other matters the authority has no basis for objecting to or preventing buildings that are ‘permitted development’.
“That is what happened in this case. The only limit for a new agricultural building in proximity to people’s homes applies when the building is intended to house livestock, in which case it cannot be sited within 400 metres of a residential property.”
Mr Avery added: “It is nonetheless very unfortunate that the landowner chose to site this building so close to someone’s home.”