Azara Blog: English Heritage doesn't like barn conversions

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Date published: 2005/11/16

The BBC says:

Britain's historic farm buildings are under threat from disuse, dereliction and "horror" conversions, English Heritage is warning.

In a joint report with the Countryside Agency, the body says there is pressure on buildings such as barns, hop kilns, dovecotes and stables.

The report found 7.4% of listed farm buildings were in a severe state.

It would take £30m to repair these buildings and many more are in danger, the Heritage Counts report said.

Simon Thurley, chief executive of English Heritage, said: "Because they are falling out of use, they are vanishing fast.

"We are talking about thousands of barns, wagon sheds, byres, dovecotes, outhouses, stables and oast houses - these buildings face disuse and dereliction.

"Almost as bad is that some of them are being converted in such a way that is fundamentally unsympathetic to the buildings and very unsympathetic to the countryside itself.

"Almost a third of listed working farm buildings have already been converted, mainly to residential use, and this can do a lot of damage if it is not done with care and attention."

Dr Thurley said he was aware of some "horror" barn conversions which were causing the "suburbanisation of the countryside".

The usual middle class snobs expressing the usual sanctimonious middle class views. There is nothing the urban and rural elite hate more than the "suburbanisation" of anything (a code word to mean anything they don't like, such as decent housing for the ordinary people of Britain, rather than the urban rabbit hutches promoted by the planning elite). The reason so many farm buildings are "in danger" is because they are no longer useful, and by far and away the best use of most of these buildings is to be converted to residential (and less frequently other) use. Of course the middle class control freaks do not really like this (how dare the suburban peasants trample the countryside). And the complaint that conversion of listed buildings "can do a lot of damage if it is not done with care and attention" is a statement of the obvious, but of course any change to a listed building needs planning consent, so the complaint also rings hollow. If the UK has £30m to spend, it would be far better spent on improving the housing stock of the country than on keeping farm buildings that nobody wants up to scratch.

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