From barn to brewery in AONB
Ironically, to change the whole building to a microbrewery (under Class B1 of the Use Classes Order) would have been allowed as ‘permitted development’, under which some changes can take place without planning permission.
However, because the applicants only wished to use part of the building for brewing, retaining the rest for agricultural use, full planning permission was required. They intended to continue to manage the adjacent farmland and re-use the by-products from the brewing process to feed stock. Despite being aware of the fall-back position and a prior approval, officers recommended refusal on the basis that it was an unsustainable location. The large three-storey Victorian house lay within a conservation area and overlooked Birkenhead Park, itself a Grade 1 listed park and garden. The building had last been used as a co-operative sports and social club, but had lain empty for several years and suffered fire damage in 2013.
Despite the building not being listed, it was an important designated heritage asset and so JWPC worked closely with the local council and its conservation officer to secure its restoration. A project team was assembled to demonstrate that conversion to 11 apartments was the best way to secure the building’s future, although doing so would create a financial deficit.
Planning permission was granted for the development, and the brewery now provides its products to a number of public houses familiar to JWPC staff, which we believe is a happy ending. Following these discussions, council officers and Historic England recommended approval of the scheme, and after extensive lobbying of the Planning Committee and a site visit, JWPC was successful in securing planning permission subject to a Section 106 agreement. Regeneration of this important building is now under way.
Photo courtesy of User Rept0n1x at Wikimedia Commons