Inspector rules on whether Wisbech barn can be converted to a bungalow after refusal by Fenland District Council

Various angles showing the barn at Mannings Farm, Wisbech, which the owner had hoped to convert to a

Various angles showing the barn at Mannings Farm, Wisbech, which the owner had hoped to convert to a house. The Planning Inspectorate has dismissed an appeal after refusal by Fenland Council. Picture; FENLAND COUNCIL - Credit: Archant

A barn needs so much work done that converting it to a three-bedroom bungalow is unreasonable, says a report by a Government inspector.

Claire Searson made the comments in her report which dismissed an appeal by Mannings Farm, Panswell Lane, Wisbech.

The inspector concluded that because of the works needed to be done it would not satisfy regulations and guidelines that permit barn conversions.

She said that new foundations, underpinning and possible replacement of the walls and asbestos cement roof “would be so extensive as to constitute substantial rebuilding which could not be considered as ‘reasonably necessary’”.

She took on board comments from Fenland Council – who refused the application a year ago – regarding the lack of foundations and the extent of the proposed loading of new walls onto the existing framework. The council had reported that in their opinion the works would amount to structural changes rather than conversion.

The inspector said the courts had held that a building “must be capable of conversion to residential use without operations that would amount either to complete or substantial re-building of the pre-existing structure or, in effect the creation of a new building”.

She said: “I accept that there is nothing to prohibit the retention of asbestos panels. “However given the harmful nature of the substance it is unclear to me as to whether it would be possible to physically retain these.”

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On a site visit the inspector said she came away “uncertain as to whether the roofing and external wall panels could realistically be retained”.