Bushett Farm, Great Bardfield
University of Cambridge

Resolution of a seemingly impossible situation with liability for a very expensive listed barn in the middle of a working farmstead. This included provision of a brand new farmstead for the existing farming tenant and successful use of the little known or experienced policy of ‘Enabling Development’.


What we did

  • The remote farmstead comprises one of the largest remaining Listed Essex barns, within a set of mixed traditional and modern farm buildings.

  • Requirement to update onsite grain store to meet modern agricultural requirements.

  • The Listed barn was a liability in need of very significant structural and ongoing repairs. Previous professional advice had been that it could only be converted to one very large open plan house, however, this was not viable. The Local Planning Authority did not want it divided up internally as the vast open space is a critical part of the historic interest of the barn.


  • Initial marketing to demonstrate that commercial/employment used was not viable.

  • Following detailed and constructive negotiations, the principle was established for ‘Enabling Development’ consisting of three large new five bedroom houses, sensitively located on the rest of the built site, in place of the large modern buildings.

  • The Listed barn would be converted into two dwellings, each based at either end of the building, and running into wings off the respective ends of the barn.

  • Devised a clever architectural arrangement that preserved full open views of the whole roof structure and largely open volume of the barn from an informal internal courtyard area between the two midstreys.

  • Consent was obtained for construction of a new modern standalone farmstead (contrary to policy) around 800 yards from the new residential development. This allowed the site to be freed up for the development and provided modern facilities for the farming tenant in a new location, ensuring there was no conflict between the residential and agricultural uses.

  • The project was led and managed by the RDP team, producing the detailed development appraisals to prove the case for ‘Enabling Development’, with the building consultancy and architecture team and support from planning.


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