THE first set of plans have been put forward by Exmoor National Park Authority (ENPA) as it starts to rescue an important farm estate which it estimates will cost it nearly £2 million.

It comes as the ENPA struggles to balance its budget in the face of predicted cash shortages over the next few years.

Driver Farm, which sits on The Chains, near Simonsbath and the Pinkery outdoor education centre, has been described as ‘highly significant’ to the heritage of Exmoor.

Renovating the historic farmhouse is estimated to cost £740,000, while a further £1.1 million will be invested in changes to land management on the 800-acre holding.

One of the barns which have become rundown on Driver Farm, Exmoor.
One of the barns which have become rundown on Driver Farm, Exmoor. (ENPA)

Now, ENPA has submitted an application to restore one of the farmyard barns which was said to be in a dangerous state.

The work will include re‐roofing and carrying out associated repairs to the barn, which dates to the 1840s and was used as a cattle shed until the 20th century, more recently providing storage space.

The existing corrugated asbestos roof had reached the end of its life and a section collapsed last year and was currently covered by a tarpaulin.

ENPA rural surveyor Andrew Lawes said the original historic roof structure was becoming decayed by water ingress and needed to be removed and replaced with corrugated metal.

Guttering would also be replaced with galvanised gutters, and a small section of an adjoining agricultural barn would need removing to allow access for the work.

Driver Farm occupies some of the highest, most sensitive, and wettest parts of the moor and previously lay within the Royal Forest of Exmoor and has several prehistoric monuments which are 3,000 to 4,000 years old.

ENPA conservation, access, and estate head Rob Wilson-North previously told members it was ‘one of the last truly remote upland landscapes in southern Britain’ and lay within the core of Exmoor’s Dark Skies Reserve.

He said at the time: “Without doubt, continued ENPA ownership here safeguards against adverse and intrusive development in the broadest sense.”

ENPA is facing a budget gap which was projected to reach £252,000 by 2026, and continue to increase thereafter.