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Demolition plans for Grade II listed barn rejected by Welsh Government

The Grade II listed Welsh barn at Bodynfoel Farm near Llanfechain (Pic: Archaeology Wales/Powys County Council)

PLANS by Powys County Council to demolish a historic Grade II listed barn have been rejected by Welsh Government planning inspectors.

In April 2021, the council’s farm estate general manager, Hugo Van-Rees lodged a listed building consent planning application to demolish a “structurally unstable barn” at Bodynfoel Farm near Llanfechain in the north of Powys.

Mr Van-Rees said: “The building has not been in use for some time and has fallen into a very poor state of disrepair.

“Demolition is needed under health and safety grounds.”

A Heritage Impact Assessment by Archaeology Wales Ltd had been included with the proposal.

Archaeology Wales said: “Despite being considered a good example of a traditional Welsh barn, it is in a bad state of disrepair and might be acting as a harmful agent for abutting buildings also of historic interest.”

They recommended that the barn be the subject of a photographic survey so that an “integral record” of a historic asset is kept.

Llanfechain community council discussed the application at a meeting in June 2021 and raised questions about it.

The council said: “Why demolish it and what will it look like afterwards or what are they going to do with the land the building vacates?”

Councillors were also concerned that demolishing the building could be “intentionally” destroying a bat roost which would be against the law.

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Environment body Natural Resources Wales (NRW) had issued a licence that would allow Powys Council to: “capture and transport, disturb and to damage or destroy a breeding site or resting place for preserving public health or safety.”

This licence covered Pipistrelle, Brown Bong Eared and Whiskered bats, but it ran out on December 31, 2021.

Cadw, the Welsh Government’s historic and environment service was also consulted on the applications.

Cadw said: “The description of proposals states that the building is structurally unstable however the application has not been accompanied by a structural appraisal.

“This is required to demonstrate that the extent, and therefore the cost, of repair outweighs the importance of the building.

“The applicant should also make clear why the building is no longer suitable for use and why it is not practical to offer the building for sale.

Cadw wanted more information from the applicant to address these points.

The Welsh Government had been asked to call in the application and take over the planning process.

Welsh Government senior planning manager Alan Groves said: “I am authorised by the Cabinet Secretary for Housing, Local Government and Planning (Julie James MS) to determine your application.”

“Consent for demolition should not be given simply because redevelopment is economically more attractive than the repair or re-use of a historic building.”

“Despite several requests the applicant has failed to submit additional information to address the points raised by Cadw.”

“Without this information the proposed demolition works cannot be properly assessed and therefore it is necessary, based on a lack of sufficient information, to refuse consent for the application.”