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Moor society worried about new planning laws

By North Devon Journal  |  Posted: January 30, 2014

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MEMBERS of Exmoor's support organisation are concerned that new planning laws will change the look of the moor's agricultural buildings.

The chairman of the Exmoor Society, Rachel Thomas, said members feared proposed planning changes would encourage farmers and property owners to convert their barns into housing.

Members have contacted their MPs with an urgent plea to exempt parts of Exmoor, and the other national parks, from new development rights.

"The society is deeply concerned about the introduction of permitted development rights for agricultural buildings to residential use in designated areas," Rachel wrote in a letter to the MPs whose constituencies cover the moor. "On Exmoor there are some remote barns, but also more prominent ones which, with their underdeveloped and simple form, make a significant contribution to the character and appearance of the national park.

"The conversion of these to residential use would harm the special qualities of Exmoor's landscape."

The MPs who are being asked to speak for the moor are Nick Harvey, Ian Liddel-Grainger and Liam Fox. Rachel said: "Extending permitted development rights is not the appropriate mechanism to deliver the Government's stated intention. A planning application in these sensitive landscapes would be the more sensible approach as it reflects the local circumstances and takes into account the needs of hill farmers to survive and thrive."

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