A PLAN to convert stables at Higher Downgate into a one-bedroom home has been given the go-ahead.

Councillors at the East Cornwall meeting went against the planning officer’s recommendation by seven votes to one.

Applicant Nicola Bull, who lives in Kelly Bray, had explained to Cornwall Council that she needed to live in Downgate to be closer to her elderly parents and to tend to her horse.

Development officer Georgia Rowe had recommended refusal of the scheme, stating that it would contravene the Cornwall local plan on several counts.

There were doubts as to the construction of the building and whether it could be re-used without “significant building works”.

A key part of allowing building in the open countryside is that it should enhance the area. However, the planning officer felt that the existing stable was utilitarian and the proposed dwelling was of a “poor design, using a variety of materials not of a particularly high quality”.

The visual impact of a house on the site would be particularly out of keeping with the area during hours of darkness.

“Whilst the site is relatively well screened, this is not a good reason for encroachment into the countryside.

“The proposed dwelling would be glimpsed from the public highway to the south east, where it would have a sub-urbanising impact.”

However, Stoke Climsland Parish Council had given its unanimous backing to the planning application. Local Cornwall Councillor Adrian Parsons had argued in favour and had called the plan in to be decided by committee, rather than by the officer.

Cllr Parsons disagreed with the officer’s assessment of the buildings and said that the existing structures were suitable for conversion, worthy of retention and would enhance the immediate setting.

Cllr Malcolm Fitter asked whether the structural appraisal submitted with the application gave concrete data to demonstrate if the building was “structurally sound” or whether this was simply an opinion. The agent replied that Cornwall Council’s policy, in the case of the conversion of a building, “does not require calculations as to whether that building is structurally sound”. A structural engineer had, however, deemed the block-built stable to be structurally sound, he added.

Cllr Parsons said that he believed the site in question had at one time been a garden and therefore it could be described as previously developed land.

While one reason for refusing the proposal would be to prevent an increase in traffic movements, Cllr Parsons, along with some of the neighbours, argued that Mrs Bull would in fact see a reduction in her journeys each week, as she would no longer need to commute to her family and her horse.

Concerns raised by neighbours over surface water runoff and privacy were not mentioned in the officer’s conclusions.