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Farmer argues case for new house

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By Marc McLean, local democracy reporter
Farmer argues case for new house

A DUNSCORE farmer is pleading for permission to build a farm worker’s house on his land to ensure his cattle and sheep are looked after properly 24/7.
Fraser Dykes, who runs Dardarroch Farm, was disappointed when his proposals to build a home at the farm were rejected by Dumfries and Galloway Council’s planning department in November last year.
Mr Dykes took over the farm business from his late father several years ago, and is in the process of expanding it further beyond 90 animals.
This expansion of additional rented land and growing livestock numbers, with potential animal welfare emergencies, makes it necessary for him to reside at the site full-time, claims the applicant.
An appeal against the refusal of planning permission has been submitted on Mr Dykes’ behalf by agent David Reilly, of Ecoplan Architectural in Carlisle.
The appeal, which will be heard in full at the council’s local review body meeting next Thursday, states: “The applicant is keen to highlight that emergencies are just that – an unpredicted event with potential dangerous, distressing or fatal outcomes to the livestock.
“This can only be responsibly managed with a full time permanent presence on site.
“It must also be highlighted that farming is not a set working hours job, and the applicant will do many hours extended overtime both late into the evening and early in the morning which was not considered in the labour requirement report.
“This replicates many farm businesses where the farmer will not always have a need to work out of hours and during unsociable hours, however they are present living on site to quickly work for animal health and welfare when an instant does occur.
“That is the basic workings of livestock farming which the planning officer has failed to empathise with.”
The planning case officer, Claire Eckstein, insisted that the current farming operation “does not provide sufficient justification for a house.”
In his appeal, the agent responded: “The applicant’s business is at a turning point where he needs to reside on site to keep up with the labour demand required of him, and legislative requirements to keep his business successful.
“The applicant has recently invested in renting additional land (20.03 hectares in addition to the 7.85 already rented) to enable him to expand the livestock numbers in spring 2023.
“The business on site has been established since 1996 and remains financially viable – it would be devastating for this rural business to fail on the lack of a permanent on site presence.”
In her report, Ms Eckstein wrote: “While the applicant has indicated the intention to develop the business and increase livestock numbers this has not yet occurred, nor is it confirmed that any such expansion would be based at Dardarroch as opposed to rented land elsewhere.
“Furthermore, there is no guarantee that this would be realised. Indeed, the supporting information confirms that the business expansion would be subject to the applicant reducing their working hours from their other business interests, with the dwellinghouse indicated as being required to facilitate such as an expansion.”
Councillors sitting on the local review body panel will make a final decision on the planning application next Thursday.

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