Shaftesbury Town Council is objecting to plans to convert an outbuilding on Love Lane into a new two-bedroom home.
The applicant is promising a ‘sympathetic conversion’ of a barn-style workshop on a plot of land shared with an existing house, 7 Love Lane. The proposed development lies within the conservation area, but the brick-built barn is not a listed building. Part of the property was used as a veterinary practice until 1978. Langford’s Lane, which runs alongside, took its name from a Victorian-era vet who once lived there.
In spring last year, the site owner withdrew plans to convert the workshop into a separate home, following discussion with the Planning Authority’s Conservation Officer. For this new application, the applicant has modified their proposal in line with changes suggested by the officer.
Town councillors scrutinised this new set of plans during a planning meeting last month. Cllr Alex Chase didn’t feel that the barn conversion was ‘in keeping’, singling out the proposed ‘Juliet balcony’. The applicant has amended this feature following the Conservation Officer’s remarks and is now proposing a painted wooden balcony rather than a glass one.
Cllr Andy Hollingshead had no issue with the barn alternations. He said it, ‘looks like quite a nice plan’, but parking and vehicular access concerned him and some of his fellow councillors.
The occupant of number 7 doesn’t want the owner of the new home to drive onto the site using the existing entrance from Langford’s Lane. Instead, the applicant wants to make a new access through the wall running alongside Love Lane to, ‘maintain the privacy of the host’. The applicant cites a near-neighbour’s new entrance, also cut into a wall on Love Lane, which gained planning approval.
The single vehicle parking space for the new home would be on the opposite side of the site to the new residence. The owner would need to walk across the driveway of the existing property to reach their vehicle.
Councillors didn’t like that access arrangement and they assumed that the unusual layout was because the existing homeowner wanted to retain as much of their current garden, adjacent to their home. Cllr Peter Yeo suggested advising the applicant to forego some of their outdoor space to make the plan ‘less ridiculous’.
Cllr John Lewer voiced ‘considerable reservations’ because of the ‘inequitable division of the land’ but Cllr Piers Brown questioned whether that was a planning consideration. And Cllr Hollingshead felt that the ‘contortion’ of the parking area was relevant because it creates access challenges.
Cllr Lewer agreed. “It looks like there is parking for only one car. You won’t be able to do a three-point turn if you put a second car in there,” John said, adding that a visiting guest would need to reverse out onto Love Lane, which he thought was unsafe and illegal. John said that street parking was ‘a nightmare’ in this part of town with no spaces available nearby. But Cllr Yeo disagreed that access would present a major problem.
Cllr Chase summed up concerns about the prospect of additional traffic on the narrow Love Lane. “It’s not a safe place to come out of,” said Alex.
Councillors resolved to oppose the application because the new parking space that would be created would be close to a neighbouring garden and they felt it would cause a noise disturbance. They also objected on vehicle access and safety grounds. Councillors also feel that the plans for the barn are out of character with the conservation area. However Cllr Yeo made it clear that he felt that there were ‘too many negatives’ contained within the council’s list of concerns.
In a written submission read out in the planning meeting, Shaftesbury Civic Society said they had ‘considerable reservations’ about the proposal and ‘will put together a detailed response over the next few days’.
Whatever Shaftesbury Town councillors think, Dorset Council is the Planning Authority. They will have the final say on whether this application is approved or not.