A CAMPAIGN group has said a plan to retrospectively allow several unlawful and out-of-character changes to a barn conversion on historic land should be rejected.

The plan, for an existing barn conversion known as ‘Steel Barn’ off Red Hill Lane in Worcester’s historic Middle Battenhall Farm, seeks to normalise a number of changes including putting up wooden fencing, building a car park and storage unit, extending the home’s curtilage past the authorised boundary – all of which has already been carried out – and get permission to install solar panels.

The applicant said the parking area had not been raised as was suggested and the fencing was allowed because it was under two metres and was needed for security.

The extended curtilage was going to be used as paddock as more than 400 trees had been planted.

Middle Battenhall Farm Land Action Group (MBFLAG) has called for the application to be refused and said the changes should not have been allowed in the first place.

A letter sent to planners at Worcester City Council said solar panels on top of the converted barn would cause “significant” harm and the owner of the building should be forced to stick to the original planning permission from 2018 which showed a “modest” garden as well as a garage and small drive which had been deemed discreet and acceptable.

The new plans show a “raised forecourt” filled with modern cars according to the objection letter, rather than the proposed “discreet” garage and lighting which lights an area previously dark – affecting wildlife and the overall look of the surrounding land.

The home also has an “illegal” driveway, according to the group, the entrance of which is on a junction and is dangerous to cyclists and walkers.

MBFLAG also said the original plan did not mention cutting down hedges for fencing to mark the boundary and should not have been allowed to go ahead.

The letter said the owner of the barn conversion had "vastly overdeveloped" the site and made "considerable" changes. The group said the changes were damaging to the character of the area.

MBFLAG said it had taken nearly 18 months for breaches of planning permission to be brought to the council’s planning committee and enforcement action should have been taken earlier.

Work to convert the former agricultural building began in summer 2018 but planning permission was violated several times, the group said, forcing former ward councillor Roger Knight to ask for enforcement.

The council was made aware of the same issues in February last year, with work ongoing, but would not have been discussed by councillors until last month.

The plan was sent to the council’s planning committee for a decision by Cllr Steve Mackay, who represents St Peter’s ward, because of “significant” local objection.

Planning officers at the council recommended the plan should be approved but the planning committee meeting, scheduled to take place last month, had to be cancelled because of the coronavirus.

The original land around the barn was included in the original planning application, which was approved by council officers in 2018, and set out an official boundary as well as restricting all permitted development rights including any extensions, outbuildings or alterations.

The council investigated and found the land around the conversion had been extended past what was approved and fencing put up beyond what was classed as the curtilage. A storage unit had also been built.