PLANS to convert a village’s former Georgian coach house and groom accommodation into a holiday let have been rejected by Somerset Council planners even though they had no objections in principal.

The two-storey building stands in the grounds of the The Old Rectory, Huish Champflower, near Wiveliscombe, which is being ‘restored to its former glory’.

Mr and Mrs P. Everson wanted to convert the coach house property to a five-bedroom holiday let, including a ground floor disabled access bedroom.

Planning officer Russell Williams accepted a holiday let would not unduly harm the vitality or viability of neighbouring communities and would support tourism offerings in the locality.

An outbuilding at the Coach House, Huish Champflower, which would be demolished to provide disability vehicle access and parking for a proposed holiday let.
An outbuilding at the Coach House, Huish Champflower, which would be demolished to provide disability vehicle access and parking for a proposed holiday let. PHOTO: Architectural Design Solutions. ( )

But Mr Williams said the scheme failed to mitigate for phosphate emissions which would drain onto the Somerset Levels and harm wildlife and therefore had to be refused.

Planning agent Andy Pugh, of Architectural Design Solutions, Wells, said Mr and Mrs Everson bought The Old Rectory about five years ago but the previous owner kept the coach house and a walled garden and about eight acres of land.

However, the couple were able to purchase the building and associated land in 2022 to reinstate the full estate.

They had since carried out extensive renovation and completed previous restoration and extension works which had been started by the former owner.

The renovations included reinstating the existing ponds and waterways within the grounds, repairing, renovating, and bringing existing sluices back to working order to control the water running through the site.

Mr Pugh said the waterways reinstatement had resulted in a dramatic increase in insects such as damselflies and dragonflies, water striders, and mayflies, and also in mosquitoes and midges, which in turn had seen a rise in the numbers of bats.

He said: “Now that this Coach House is back in the ownership of the applicants it is their intention to carry out the conversion works into a specialist self-contained holiday let.”

Mr Pugh said it would be restored back to its original standing set against the recently renovated Old Rectory with an extension for a large communal dining space, and rebuilding of an existing lean-to extension to form a designated accessible wheelchair user bedroom.

A partial rebuild of the rear attached outbuilding would include a roof terrace and remodelling of the existing structure.

Mr Pugh said: “The clients’ unique selling point is that this holiday accommodation will provide a flexible multi-functional use whereas this could be let out to a family with elderly relatives or a disabled family member, large family groups. or groups coming to the area for outdoor pursuits and providing an ideal location for access to the surrounding areas and Exmoor.”

He said there had been two previous planning approvals for the Coach House, one to convert it to a single dwelling, and one to turn it into holiday accommodation. Mfr Pugh said although those applications pre-dated Natural England’s moratorium on new residential approvals because of the harm caused by phosphates, he considered they were a precedent for the current plans.