Herefordshire Council has firmly rejected a contentious plan to demolish existing farm buildings to make way for three larger houses at Drakeley Farm.

James Kerr, of S&A Property – a division of the Marden-based S & A Group – had proposed the new residences would each boast four bedrooms, destined for the open market. However, the council's decision has effectively stopped the development plans in their tracks.

The farm currently hosts two empty cottages, a defunct dairy, and an assortment of outbuildings, which fell vacant in 2020 and were subsequently purchased by S&A. However, a letter from the developer's agent argued that simply replacing the existing structures with houses on the same footprint would result in an "unsatisfactory relationship" between the new buildings. Instead, they proposed the new structures would be larger, offering a higher standard of internal accommodation, significantly increased energy efficiency, and overall relevance to the market.

Yet, this vision failed to convince Andrew Banks, Herefordshire Council’s Development Manager. He clarified that while like-for-like replacement of rural housing is permitted, the barn slated for redevelopment did not qualify as residential. Banks also raised concerns that the development's proposed layout did not reflect or compare to the size and scale of the existing modest buildings.

Further complicating matters, the project also hit a snag due to its location in the river Lugg's special area of conservation. A necessary habitat regulations assessment would have to precede any approval.

This setback follows an earlier withdrawal by S&A of plans to erect 13.5 hectares of fixed polytunnels at the farm, which neighbours its current soft fruit growing base at Marden, in April. This earlier proposal had stirred considerable local opposition, garnering over 90 objections.