£250k B&B in Dundry must be turned back into barn - because roof is 75cm too high
A GUESTHOUSE owner faces losing his business – because a barn he converted into bedrooms was built 75cm too high.
Ed Smith converted the derelict barn into rooms four years ago as an expansion of his thriving bed and breakfast in Dundry.
But when officials from North Somerset Council inspected the building some years later, they found the height of its roof had been raised without planning permission.
Mr Smith was refused retrospective planning permission for the development – which the council believes spoils the greenbelt – and has now been ordered to return the 19th century barn to its original state by April.
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The 44-year-old says changing the building from an 18-room guesthouse back to an agricultural barn would lead to the collapse of his business and the loss of six jobs.
He believes that the enforced closure of his guesthouse Bridgwater Farm, which is off the A38, would harm the local economy.
Mr Smith, who invested £250,000 converting the barn, says he only raised the height of the barn's roof to create a nesting space for migratory birds.
He said: "What's the point in bringing the roof height down if there are nesting birds and bats in there?
"I had an ecologist round and they said there were 10 or 11 swallow nests in there, as well as bat droppings. It's being used for its intended purpose – as a bird and bat loft.
"It seems that a bunch of pen pushers have bees in their bonnets about the barn. We've had letters of approval from the next door neighbours saying they are happy with what's happened here and that it's a credit to the community. The parish council has also approved of the development.
"I've had a supporting letter from my MP Liam Fox, who asked whether the council would consider looking at approving retrospective planning permission because there had been far worse infringements.
"The barn isn't overlooking anyone and it's not causing any harm to the greenbelt."
Nick Yates, spokesman for North Somerset Council, said Mr Smith had been unsuccessful in appealing the authority's decisions.
He said: "Two barns were converted and their roofs raised without planning permission.
"The owner has submitted a retrospective planning application which was turned down. He appealed but lost.
"We have served enforcement notices and he has also appealed against those – those appeals were turned down by the Planning Inspectorate. The enforcement notices state that the buildings need to be returned to their original condition by April."