Sandridge Green Belt farmhouse raises ‘eyesore’ concern
A FORMER councillor is calling for an inquiry into how a farmhouse on a Green Belt site has been replaced with an “imposing eyesore”.
Judy Shardlow, former Lib Dem Councillor for Wheathampstead, is questioning why the building on Hill End Farm in Sandridge was given the go-ahead by the council’s planning department and is keen to know what justified the construction of a large four-bedroom residential dwelling, complete with swimming pool, on a prominent Green Belt site.
She said: “The building is unmissable and it’s quite staggering to think this hasn’t raised more questions before now.
“I felt quite sick when I saw it and I cannot understand how on earth it has been approved on a Green Belt site.”
Planning permission was granted for the replacement farmhouse, farm building and ancilliary accommodation in December 2009, after amendments were made to a prior planning application – which was also approved – lodged in 2008.
The amended plans looked to reduce the impact of the building on the Green Belt site by reducing the height of the house by half a metre and keeping the farmhouse within the farmyard – previously it had been planned to build the house on a separate field of open farmland.
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In the plans, the agents, Yiangou Architects, stated that the house would not be visible from the road below because of the slope of the hill and that a further reduction of the levels by a foot or so would not have any impact.
Planning permission was granted for the building but it was subject to 20 conditions, one of which stipulated that the occupant should be someone working in agriculture, forestry or the widow or widower of such a person.
Judy said: “Now that the seasons have changed it is visible from the B651 and it’s just not acceptable. I cannot understand how it has got to this stage without anyone drawing attention to it.
“An investigation should be launched, otherwise we’re at risk of more ‘green belt chateaux’ appearing on our landscape.”
Planning portfolio holder, Chris Brazier, said: “With a large development such as this it’s important to make sure nothing has been overlooked and I am aware that Heather Cheesbrough, the head of planning and building control, is looking through the matter.”
Yiangou Architects declined to comment on the matter.
Two further planning applications were submitted in August this year to add a first floor open balcony to the house and an additional porch and verandah. Sandridge parish council will be giving its views on the application at a meeting on Monday.
The council’s planning department was asked to confirm that Hill End Farm was a working farm and responded that the fields around the farm were in “agricultural use”. But there was no response to questions about the size and capabilities of the working farm.