Yew Tree Farm, Kent

Understanding Heritage Significance to Aid Design


Gaining an understanding of an historic building is vital at the design stage of a project.

AB Heritage was recently involved in a successful example, for a proposal to convert a Grade II Listed 18th century barn to residential use, in the Lower Weald region of Kent. This area has the highest surviving proportion of traditional farmsteads in the county, where dispersed farmsteads predominate and represent a local cultural tradition.

The National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF) Paragraph 128, requires local planning authorities to request descriptions on the significance of any heritage assets affected by a proposal, including any contribution made by their setting.

The barn was one of a number of traditional farm buildings to survive as part of a dispersed cluster farmstead settlement. Detailed research identified that this type of farmstead settlement was typical of The Weald. Due to the wooded pastures of the region, it saw a larger diversity in agricultural practices, often combining a degree of industry alongside woodland enterprises.

BArn 1

Early consultation with the local planning authority’s Conservation Officer, involving meetings at the site, identified that a number of significant elements relating to the past use of the building had survived. These included a set of original winnowing doors and a rare surviving leap, a timber positioned at the base of the doors, partly to prevent the corn escaping during the threshing process.

Using guidance set out by Historic England in their Farmstead Character Statements and an appraisal of the building undertaken by AB Heritage, a number of additional elements of significance were identified. These included an area of original weatherboarding, parts of the original ragstone foundations and carpenters and burn marks within the building.

The setting was considered to make a significant contribution . . .

BArn 2

Overall, the analysis of the setting carried out by AB Heritage determined that the rural, agricultural character of the vicinity and dispersed nature of the farmstead, remain largely intact. Therefore, the setting was considered to contribute towards the significance of the building to a high degree.

Once the significant elements of the building had been identified and the guidance set out by Historic England on the conservation of traditional farm buildings taken into consideration, an assessment could be made of the potential impacts of the initial designs and suggestions made as to how to mitigate those potential impacts. 

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Images: External views and internal views of the barn.