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Row erupts over historic village farmhouse plans

A historic farmhouse, which could be almost 300 years old, is at the centre of a major planning row in a West Norfolk village.

Community leaders in Roydon say they believe the property on Low Road, which is thought to date back to the 18th century, has been neglected so it can be replaced with a new structure.

But the developers say restoring the current building is not viable and allegations against them have “no professional basis or evidence.”

General view of The Whins where there is a planning application to restore the existing farmhouse
General view of The Whins where there is a planning application to restore the existing farmhouse

An application to replace the current structure with a new, two-storey house, has been recommended for approval by West Norfolk Council officials, ahead of a meeting of the authority’s planning committee next week.

Their report to members, which was published this week, concluded: “The applicant has submitted sufficient information to suggest that it is not viable to renovate the existing dwelling.

“This is supported by an appropriate structural report and viability assessment that your officers have had scrutinised by an independent surveyor.”

But members of Roydon’s parish council have highlighted comments by conservation officials suggesting the property, part of which is thought to date back to 1727, is an undesignated heritage asset.

The authority said: “The parish council believes that the property has been deliberately neglected by the removal of the roof last year and leaving the property open to the elements.

“The parish council is extremely disappointed by this action, and the fact that the property is deteriorating, and it is felt that an advantage should not be gained because of this.”

But the case submitted on behalf of the applicant, Edward McDonnell, said the building had been found to be unsafe two years ago.

It added: “If the council is suggesting our client has caused additional harm to the building by removing the roof tiles and not recovering, I would like to know the council’s evidence base for this.

“[Neither] the parish council nor the conservation team have re-visited the site following removal of the tiles despite requests by our client.

“Any suggestion at this stage is only an assumption and has no professional basis or evidence.

“Our client has acted in a timely professional manner throughout the whole project, commissioning professionals to act on their behalf, following the professional’s advice and halting works as soon as concerns were raised.”

A previous application for the site was withdrawn last summer after further information about viability and heritage impacts was sought.

The planning committee meeting will take place at Lynn’s Town Hall on Monday.

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