A plan by a large Herefordshire fruit grower to knock down farm buildings and replace them with three new larger houses has been rejected.

The outline application by James Kerr of S&A Property, part of Marden-based S&A Group, said the three, at Drakeley Farm near Marden, would each be of four bedrooms, for market sale.

A letter from his agent said the current buildings – two “empty but still sound” cottages, a redundant former dairy and several outbuildings – fell vacant in 2020 and were then bought by S&A along with the rest of the farm.

But directly replacing these with houses on the same footprint “would result in an unsatisfactory relationship between them”, the letter said.


The new buildings would instead be larger, but with “a better standard of internal accommodation and significantly higher standards of energy efficiency”, making them “fit for purpose and relevant to the market”.

But Herefordshire Council’s development manager Andrew Banks said that although like-for-like replacement of rural housing is one exception to the general ban on housebuilding in open countryside, the barn which formed part of the replacement plan did not count as residential.

“Furthermore, the indicative layout of the development is not considered to reflect or to be comparable in size and scale to the existing modest buildings on the site,” he said.


The proposal also came up against the restriction on development in the river Lugg special area of conservation, which meant a habitat regulations assessment would have to be carried out before it could pass.

A plan by S&A to erect 13.5 hectares of fixed polytunnels at the farm, which neighbours its current soft fruit growing base at Marden, was withdrawn in April after drawing over 90 objections.