A FARMER’S appeal, to build a modern house to replace an old farmhouse in Marl Lane, has been refused.

Derek Melville wanted to build a house with “modern environmental credentials” at Hurley Farm.

He said the existing early 20th century house suffered from poor insulation, was infested with rats, had a leaking roof and was “virtually impossible” to heat.

He said it was also damp and needed structural work.

Mr Melville won the support of neighbours and the parish council, but district planning officers felt the development would be inappropriate in the rural setting.

But the inspector appointed to look at Mr Melville’s appeal agreed with the district council on the initial plans. Revisions submitted along with the appeal were discounted as the inspector felt they were so different they should be considered as a separate application.

He said: “Taken together, the house and outbuildings form a traditional and functional cluster of buildings that would not be unexpected in this countryside location ... the proposed dwelling would have a very different character and appearance to the properties along the lane.”

He added: “The modern design of the proposed house, including the absence of detailing, large areas of glazing, glass balconies, and the use of non-traditional materials, would form a harmful contrast to the other properties in the area.”

He said: “I have sympathy with the structural problems and vermin infestations that the appellant is experiencing within the existing house. However, the benefits for the appellant must be weighed against the wider public interest.”

And he said: “The appellant acknowledges there are protected priority species on land adjacent to or near to the site, namely bats.

“Government guidance is clear in that it requires an ecological survey in advance of a planning application, particularly where existing information is lacking or inadequate. The proposal has not been supported with an ecological survey demonstrating the biodiversity impact of the development, although I note one has been commissioned.

“I therefore find the proposal has not been supported with sufficient information to assess the harm that it may have on the ecology and bio-diversity in the area.”