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Winchester planners block village resident converting barn into a home
5:05pm Friday 15th March 2013 in News
CIVIC chiefs say a man from a Hampshire village cannot convert his own barn into a home, despite having lived on the site for the past 20 years.
Fred Watts, a handyman from Bishop’s Sutton, has owned a small plot of land on Northside Lane since 1989 and applied to convert a disused barn into living accommodation.
A planning committee on March 8 heard that the 69-year-old was a man of modest means and currently lives in a caravan on the 0.25 hectare plot.
The committee was told that Mr Watts was able to carry out the improvements largely due to the “good will” of local tradesmen and villagers.
Speaking in support of the applicant, Councillor Simon Cook said: “The fact that Mr Watts currently lives in his unofficial home means he is effectively homeless.
“He is a well-known and popular local character. You might ask how the applicant can afford a planning consultant - there is good will towards this man. He simply wants permission to live on his land in acceptable modern conditions.”
Officers said the development contradicted various council policies, such as there being no demonstrable agricultural need to convert the barn and that the applicant had not proved the site to be unsuitable for employment purposes.
They urged councillors to reject the proposal.
But Cllr Jane Rutter supported the application, proposing a condition on the planning consent which would restrict the use of the barn as a home to the duration of Mr Watts’ lifetime.
She said: “I think we have a duty to him to allow him to live out the rest of his days in a modicum of comfort on his land. I think it’s the humane thing for this council to do.”
In a vote that split the committee seven to four, councillors opted to endorse the officers’ proposal and the application was rejected.
Housing boss Ian Tait called the decision “absolutely disgusting”.