A West Devon family have had their application to demolish two agricultural buildings and build a “modest” three bed home in its place turned down, writes Alison Stephenson.

West Devon Borough Council’s development management and licensing committee heard that Chris and Kerry Cox, their two children under seven years old and an elderly relative, all live in a two-bedroom bungalow in cramped conditions at Five Acres, Bere Alston.

Planning agent Amanda Burton said that before putting in their application, the planning department told the couple “it may be possible” to get consent for a small dwelling on the footprint of two agricultural outbuildings.

She said the family needed to look after Kerry’s father who had been unwell and wanted to be close to their business in a community in which they were born and brought up.

She said that she was “baffled” that planning officers, who now recommended that the plan should be refused, claimed the site is not well connected to the village as it is next to land earmarked for 50 homes with shops, a primary school, church, parish hall, and nearby hotel and post office.

The proposed new home would be the same size and shape as the existing “unsightly” outbuildings, and would have solar panels, air source heat pump and EV charging point, and existing access to the property would be used.

Planning officers said the proposal that came forward was against policy as it was an open-market dwelling, not an affordable home that might have found favour.

They said there was an “oversupply” of three-bed homes in the borough.

This was disputed by speaker Peter Crozier who said more than 60 people are applying for two three-bed rental properties in Bere Alston and local estate agents Mansbridge and Balment had told him these were in  most demand.

Cllr Neil Jory (Con, Milton Ford) asked if the rural buildings could be converted  rather than replaced with a new home, but officers said it would be difficult to convert them in their current state.