Village accused of ‘witch-hunt’
A MAN who finally secured permission to convert his Welford property into a home after a ten-year battle says he feels he has been the victim of a ‘witch-hunt’ by the village.
David Hood described as ‘a victory for common sense’ the decision by Daventry District Council last week to allow the change of use for Doctor’s Barn, in Northampton Road on the village outskirts.
It is the culmination, he says, of a decade-long quest to find a suitable use for the property, which he accuses Welford Parish Council of attempting to thwart at every turn.
Chairman of the parish council Nigel Brotherton told the Mail the council was only a consultee and its objections had been backed by Daventry District Council as well as by a Government inspector.
The council argued there is no demand for new housing in Welford and accused Mr Hood of failing to market the building properly for its previous use as a holiday let.
It is also against development in what it says is open countryside and has expressed fears the property’s large grounds could be used to build more homes.
Mr Hood, who grew up in Northamptonshire but lives in Hampshire, told the Mail he has no plans to build extra homes.
He says he believes the objections by villagers were an attempt to force him to sell.
“I’m an outsider as far as most of the village is concerned,” he said.
“They wanted me to sell it but if I had sold I would have made a big loss. It has been a witch-hunt. The lack of public spiritedness in the community has been astounding. The planning decision is a victory for common sense.”
Mr Hood bought the barn at auction in 2002 to turn into an artists’ photo studio for his then partner. But the relationship broke down and, despite advertising it as a commercial property to let, Mr Hood said he found no takers.
The first application to convert it into a home failed on appeal in 2006. A 2009 application to turn the property into a holiday let was allowed, despite objections from the parish council, but Mr Hood said it did not prove popular despite being widely marketed online, and applied again for a home conversion.
The application was again opposed by the parish council but allowed by the district council at a recent planning meeting.
Mr Hood said he was stunned at the meeting to see one of the objectors to the plan – not a parish council member – had recorded the number of people they had seen staying at the barn in the last year.
He also said letters had in the past been sent around the village asking residents to ‘keep an eye’ on the use of the property.
“I’ve endured a hate campaign for nearly a decade,” added Mr Hood.
“I have a queue of would-be tenants, which demonstrates the demand for affordable accomodation in Welford.”
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Wednesday 22 May 2013
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