A PROPERTY in the New Forest with two bedrooms, a bathroom and kitchen has been branded “the most exclusive pig shed in England” as the national park authority refuses to allow anyone to live there.
Ivy Cottage in Copythorne has not been occupied since around the 1930s and thereafter was occasionally used as an animal shelter, mainly for pigs.
The NPA says that therefore its residential use has been abandoned and to allow it to be lived in again would go against policy regarding development in the countryside.
The property, which was purchased by Palmerstone Homes Limited in 1999, has since been upgraded to include carpets and central heating. During this time it has been used as a day centre for people with learning disabilities.
In 2001 the company applied for permission to change its use to a live/work unit but this was refused on appeal.
It also submitted another application in 2015 which was also dismissed the following year by a planning inspector, who ruled that the creation of a permanent residence on the plot – regardless of its original purpose – would have an adverse effect on the character and distinctiveness of the area.
In 2017 the company was granted permission for the building to be used as an office between 8am and 7pm, Monday to Saturday.
However, it has been vacant since January, which Palmerstone Homes say is as a result of diminishing demand for rural office space combined with the withdrawal of a regular bus service to the area.
Palmerstone Homes director Michael Woodhall told the A&T: “The national park authority continue to object to the property being lived in on the grounds that it would create a new home in the countryside, although it is surrounded by other dwellings.”
He said the authority had refused permission for a social care keyworker, who specifically needed to live in the area for his job, to rent the property and had also declined to allow a rural housing association the opportunity to take the property over.
Mr Woodhall said: “Yet the housing waiting list in the New Forest continues to be one of the highest in Hampshire, currently running at over 3,300 people, 37 of whom would love to live specifically in Copythorne.”
He called the dwelling “the most exclusive pig shed in England” and said it was an example of the planning system at its worst.
He added: “This charming cottage effectively has no use – it should surely be a house, as it was originally intended.”
The NPA’s executive director for strategy and planning, Steve Avery, told the A&T: “The previous lawful residential use of the property ceased a long time ago and as a result, the building lost its residential status.
“The property lies in open countryside in the national park where new housing development is not normally permitted, and this includes the residential re-use of existing buildings.”
He added that since the last appeal was dismissed in 2016, the authority had adopted its new Local Plan, which sets out where new housing development can and cannot take place.
Mr Avery said: “Allowing this property to be used as a dwelling runs counter to the agreed and longstanding planning policies for the area.
“The only exception might be if a proposal was brought forward to re-use the property as a form of affordable housing – capable of being managed by an appropriate body such as a local housing association – or other type of exempted residential use, such as for an agricultural worker or New Forest commoner. Even in these circumstances, strict eligibility criteria would apply.”