'Hard working' Brinklow family given permission to extend their farmhouse - but there are worries a precedent has been set

File image.
File image.

A farmer has been given permission to extend his farmhouse and enclose his swimming pool even though planning officers at Rugby Borough Council recommended that the scheme be refused.

Now there are worries that a precedent could be set because the property at Highwood Farm in Brinklow sits in the Green Belt and because the increase in size is so great.

Planner Lucy Davison told members of this week’s (October 9) planning committee that the extensions would increase the size of the property by 77 per cent and that would erode the sense of openness.

The applicant, Dale Aston, said there were special circumstances surrounding the planned building work.

He explained that an extra bedroom was needed because of his expanding family and that he needed to be at the farm day and night because of the nature of his business.

He added: “We live quite modestly but we just need a bit more space. It’s quite important to us and we hope that common sense will prevail.”

And his cause was championed by Cllr Belinda Garcia (Con Revel and Binley Woods) who said she had sympathy with the family as they were unable to live anywhere else due to the work they did.

Cllr Tony Gillias (Con Revel and Binley Woods) added: “I know this family and they are very hard workers. If everyone in this country worked as hard as they did we’d be the best country in the whole world.”

But Cllr Jim Ellis (Lab Newbold and Brownsover) was wary about setting a precedent.

He said: “I am in support of the gentleman and his application but we are talking about a precedent here and special circumstances for his family.

“I remember a previous application evolving around a traveller family who were seeking a permanent site - that was exactly the same scenario.

“My concern is that we are allowing an exception. I think if we are making exceptions like this we have to be aware that we can make exceptions for a different community as well. My worry is that we are setting two standards.”

Head of planning Maxine Simmons confirmed that although there were guidelines restricting the size of extensions to properties in the Green Belt to 30 per cent, by allowing this scheme it would make it more difficult to turn others down.

Councillors granted planning permission by five votes to three with two abstaining.