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Low Farm Sneaton Planning Brief V3 Draft

Low Farm, SneatonLow Farm, Sneaton

1. Introduction

Low Farm, Sneaton has been selected as part of the new Local Plan as an ‘Environmental Enhancement Site’ under Policy ENV13. There have been long standing issues on the site which has meant that development has not taken place. These issues, along with recent planning policies have prevented successful and acceptable proposals coming forward and the site has, over the course of 30 to 40 years, become increasingly unsightly. This has resulted in the vernacular stone farm buildings on the site which are significantly important to the character of the village becoming derelict. This taken together with the untidy nature of the adjoining land, which also forms part of the whole site, is having a significant adverse impact on the appearance of the village.

As part of the preparation of this Planning Brief, officers have met with representatives from Sneaton Parish Council and their desire is to see housing on the site in order to support the local facilities and services in the village.

2. Purpose of the Brief

Low Farm has been recognised as having redevelopment potential in order to achieve an environmental enhancement to the immediate area and streetscene. This Planning Brief has been prepared to assist and shape the redevelopment process as part of Policy ENV13 of the Local Plan and aims to;

  • Improve the visual amenity of the village.
  • Ensure the reuse and conversion of former traditional agricultural buildings.
  • Ensure any new development respects the character of the village and existing buildings.
  • Respects the setting of the Listed farmhouse and its historic farmstead.
  • Encourage new residents to the village.

3. Location and Description

The village of Sneaton is located approximately 2 miles south of Whitby. Low Farm is located on the south side of the main street towards the centre of the village. The Anglo American Woodsmith mine development at Dove’s Nest is located approximately 1 ½ miles to the south of the village.

The historic core of the village is predominantly of linear development, often set-back from the highway with small garden areas to the front. There has been some back land development (mainly to the north side of the village) as well as some modern in-fill. What remains clear however are the several historic farmsteads (Low Farm being one of them) which would have formed the core of the village (see map below) and the site at Low Farm is important in illustrating this history and evolution of the village.

Historic map of Sneaton

Historic Map showing the village (OS 6 inch to the mile) dated mid-19th Century

The site has been used in the past for agriculture, storage for a local scaffolding business, general agricultural purposes and also parking for the farm house and for farm workers.  The former farm buildings are now derelict and not in use as the roofs are no longer in place. The remainder of the site is used for wood storage and other agricultural uses and is generally untidy with no economic uses taking place. Outline planning permission for residential development and the demolition of farm buildings was granted in 1987. A further outline application for the residential development of the site was refused consent in 1992 and a subsequent appeal was dismissed.

The site measures 0.47 hectares in total and has a frontage of approximately 90 metres. The village of Sneaton has a simple linear form with dwellings on either side of the main street. There is no particular cohesion to the character of the village as there is a range of house styles and sizes. The site forms a large open site in the centre of the village and this is enhanced by the position of the buildings which are elevated from the main village road. On the front boundary of the site there is a dry stone wall set back from a wide grassed highway verge. The barns are located to the eastern half of the site, one barn is one and half storeys the other is single storey with a modern addition to its western gable. The eastern half of the site is undeveloped with a container sited in a prominent position and a small range of corrugated tin sheeting buildings. The site and barns are slightly elevated from the highway and are located approximately16 metres from the front boundary wall leaving a large open space to the front of the building line which is open and gently rises from the highway.

There is an existing vehicle access to the east of the farm buildings which serves the adjacent Low Farmhouse but this is outside of the defined site having being sold with Low Farmhouse.  Low Farmhouse is a Grade II Listed 2 storey stone and pantile former farm house. To the west of the site is Stainton House, a modern large stone and pantile dwelling. On the boundary between Stainton House and the development site is a TPO (Horse Chestnut) which lies outside of the defined site. There is also an area of land from the highway to the field behind Stainton House which is also specifically excluded in order to allow access to the fields to the south and a wider area off the road to enable large vehicles to turn and access the farm yard opposite.

The status of the barns is not disputed following their de-listing and having being provided with evidence that there was no functional link between the adjacent Low Farmhouse when it was listed in 1988, the Authority is satisfied that the barns are not curtilage listed. Despite this, they are considered to contribute to the setting of Low Farmhouse and the wider character of the village and therefore because of this are still considered to form important buildings worthy of sympathetic repair and conversion.

It is however important, as non-designated heritage assets, that any development on the site preserves the architectural and historical legibility and significance of buildings by respecting the status of the Listed farmhouse in relation to its (former) historic farmstead. Conversions, new buildings, access arrangements and treatment of the landscape should be carefully considered to maintain a subservient relationship to the farmhouse. Any application for planning permission will be advertised as affecting the setting of a Listed Building.

4. Local Plan Policies

Sneaton is defined as a ‘Smaller Village’ in the new Local Plan where normal planning policy would permit the conversion of the existing traditional farm buildings for local needs housing and permit the construction of new-build local needs dwellings where the site is located in the main built area of the village, comprising a ‘suitable small site’ (Policy CO8 - Housing in Smaller Villages). The conversion of the buildings to create local needs housing would comply with the Local Plan policy, subject to suitable design and other detailed criteria. The redevelopment of the remainder of the site would be unlikely to meet the requirements of a ‘small suitable site’, capable of accommodating no more than two local needs dwellings as it is too large. It is the currently dilapidated state of the existing farm buildings coupled together with the local connection restriction and the size of the adjoining remaining undeveloped site which has hindered development of this site, and this would not change under the current housing policies of the Local Plan.

In order to try and address the development issues of this site, the Local Plan contains the following policy;

Policy ENV13 - Environmental Enhancement Sites

In order to deliver significant environmental enhancement, proposals for the re-development of the following sites will only be permitted in accordance with a planning brief agreed by the Authority:

  • Former wood yard at Clack Lane, Osmotherley
  • Land at Low Farm, Sneaton

There have been longstanding issues preventing development of this site in the past and as such this Planning Brief has been prepared between the landowner and the Authority.

5. Potential Uses and Tenures

Having regard to the location of the site in Sneaton, which is defined as a Smaller Village in the Settlement Hierarchy, and bearing in mind the environmental enhancement opportunity that is offered by the conversion of the derelict barns, it is envisaged that the site could be developed for a sensitively designed scheme of principal residence housing and local needs housing in accordance with Section 7 below.

In terms of the conversion element, it is envisaged that the character of the barns and their setting will be best achieved by their conversion to 1 or 2 principal residence dwellings as this will have least pressure on what fabric remains. This will allow the design principles as set out in Section 7 to be adhered to and minimise the need for additional openings.

With regards to the remainder of the plot, it is envisaged that this part of the scheme should be design-led, creating a layout and form which is appropriate for the context which in turn should inform and guide the number of achievable new units. Further guidance on this is set out in Section 7. It is however envisaged that the occupancy on the new build units should be limited to local needs dwellings (the new local connection criteria is set out in Policy CO13) to enable the new housing to meet local need and demand.

In the event of it being demonstrated that the development of the dwellings would incur viability issues, consideration will be open to discussion on numbers and also imposing a less restrictive ‘principal residence ‘occupancy for this new build element, see accompanying text to Strategic Policy ‘M’ Housing.

The applicant’s agent has indicated that the intention is to sell the site in parts to allow individual opportunities for self-build plots. As such it is envisaged that a S106 agreement or a phasing planning condition will be required to ensure that whole site is developed and that the full environmental enhancement of this site is fully achieved, as required by Policy ENV13.

6. Retention of Buildings

The site contains a number of ranges of historic agricultural buildings/barns/pig sties which are considered to be of historic and architectural significance, along with an attractive dry stone wall on the site frontage. These buildings and structures should be sympathetically restored and incorporated into a scheme in order to retain the rural character of the site and the setting of the adjacent listed Low Farmhouse.

Historic building 1Historic building 2

7. Design Principles

This is a prominent site within the centre of the village where the introduction of new dwellings to enable the conversion of the derelict farm buildings offers a significant opportunity to enhance the local environment of Sneaton. The development requires a non-standard, bespoke approach capable of providing sustainable and high quality design. The design should be in keeping with the character of the older part of the village and also respect and enhance the character of the site in relation to its historic and natural assets.

Conversion of existing stone barns and outbuildings: The development should meet the requirements of Policy ENV11 and Strategic Policy M and be in accordance with the following principles;

  • The existing rooflines and pitches of the buildings to be retained and reinstated with natural clay pantiles.
  • All existing historic/original walls to be utilised and made good using matching stone and lime mortar.
  • Careful planning of the internal spaces to make use of existing openings.
  • New openings to be avoided on the street-facing elevations, including rooflights.
  • Front boundary dry stone wall (and dry stone wall running north to south through the front of the site) to be repaired.
  • As existing accesses fall outside of the designated site, further consideration on access(s) and parking will need to be considered as part of a detailed scheme, but the intention is that the scheme should not be highway/parking-led which could harm the rural character of the site.
  • Rear pig sties and adjoining outbuildings to be retained and converted sympathetically to retain character and used as ancillary storage.
  • Front garden areas to be delineated by native hedging or post and rail fencing for example in order to maintain the rural character of the site.

New Dwellings: The development of the new dwellings on the west of the site should be carried out in accordance with the following principles;

  • The development of the remainder of the site must be a design-led (not number-led) scheme reflecting the traditional form and grain of the site and the wider village.
  • Sensitive design approaches to be adopted reflecting the rural agricultural nature of the site and its context as a former farmstead, rather than adopting a utilitarian housing design as seen elsewhere in the village in the late 20th century.
  • New development should be linear in form, running parallel with the highway, replicating the appearance of agricultural barns (inspiration can be taken from other historic farmsteads in the village). Consideration will be given to the linear pattern stepping from the barns to the same line at Stainton. This would minimise front garden domestic areas leaving much more desirable and usable rear south facing gardens.
  • Because of the slightly elevated site, consideration needs to be given to the overall height of the new build element especially in the context of the single storey nature of the barns, utilising roof space where necessary.
  • A mixture of dwelling sizes in order to accommodate a variety of circumstances.
  • Dwellings to be of coursed local stone and pantile and depending on design approach could incorporate timber.
  • Site to be excavated to ensure that the dwellings are not excessively high on the site. (Site sections through the site will be required as part of any submission).
  • Front garden areas to be delineated by simple wooden post and rail fencing or native hedging in order to maintain the agricultural character of the site.
  • Front boundary wall to be retained and made good. As existing access fall outside of the designated site, further consideration on a limited new joint access(s) and front parking will need to be considered as part of a detailed scheme, but the intention is that the scheme should not be highway/parking-led which could harm the rural character of the site.
  • Although outside of the defined area the TPO Horse Chestnut tree is to be safeguarded.
  • On site renewable energy provision in accordance with the provisions of Policy ENV8 will be required.

8. Sustainable Development

The highest standard of sustainable development principles will be expected across all stages of site planning, design and construction. The design and energy efficiency of buildings should be tested against appropriate standards and should maximise the potential for energy efficiency (see on-site renewable requirement above).

9. Conclusion

This site has the potential to create a high quality development which enhances the appearance of Sneaton village. The site has detracted from the appearance of the settlement for many years and this approach represents an opportunity to improve the environment of this area of the National Park and to provide additional dwellings to meet the aspirations of the village and the wider National Park communities.