PLANNING chiefs have refused permission to demolish farm buildings in a South Gloucestershire conservation area and construct seven homes.

Architect Cerianne Thorneycroft and her fellow applicants were ‘uninspired’ by the quality and environmental credentials of developer-led housing schemes so they wanted to create ‘ultra-low energy self-build’ homes with a shared wellbeing space.

Their proposals for land at Toghill Lane in Doynton said the focus on sustainability would put the development ‘among the top few hundred buildings in the UK’, and that there had been a lot of interest in what they had hoped to accomplish.

South Gloucestershire Council refused permission due to the lack of affordable housing proposed in an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, the impact on the green belt and the conservation area, and the over-reliance on cars that would result.

The plans, which would have brought together 12 friends and helped two of them onto the housing ladder, said: “It is important to note the differences between this ultra-low energy self build project and any other type of development.

“These houses will be solely built for the individuals already involved in the project who will be making the financial and emotional commitment to this project with no intention to sell on for developer profit.

“Each household has the full intention to settle in the village, helping to support the community and local economy wherever possible.”

According to the plans, the site ceased use as the hub of a dairy farm in 2004 and is now used to store farming equipment and hay in dilapidated metal structures.

The applicants hoped to grow their own food and contribute to the village market where possible to continue the agricultural use of the land.

Doynton Parish Council said the proposed design was ‘not in the least bit sympathetic to the appearance of the conservation area’, and even ‘eco-friendly’ schemes have to comply with the rules of Green Belt development outside the settlement line.

The plans split opinions among residents, with some concerned about the impact on the environment and others welcoming the extra homes in the village.

Reacting to the refusal, Mrs Thorneycroft said: “As a group of self builders, we are all very frustrated by the decision and our experience through the planning process.

“Not only are we trying to create homes which are built to the lowest energy standards in the world, our own savings have been used to make the application, which has proven very costly. The merits of the scheme have not been taken into account by the local authority in any way.”

She said the reasons for refusal were ‘not at all justified’ and that the group will be appealing the decision.