A MAN with dreams of turning a derelict farmhouse into a family home and bed and breakfast is facing financial ruin because of red tape.
For the past three years Rik Pinchin, owner of the crumbling Bryn Awel Farm in Pentre Halkyn, has been embroiled in a bitter battle with the authorities over plans to demolish the Grade II listed farmhouse.
Mr Pinchin, a security engineer, had originally applied for planning permission to restore the building, but was advised by structural engineers that it was beyond repair.
He then reapplied for permission to demolish the farmhouse and build a near identical house on the land.
Despite being granted planning approval by Flintshire Council planners last year the proposal was called in for a decision by a Welsh Assembly Government (WAG) planning inspector.
And last week Mr Pinchin’s dreams came crashing down when the WAG ruled that the derelict building could not be demolished.
Mr Pinchin says he is now facing bankruptcy and has no choice but to hand the property back to the bank.
He said: “I’m gutted, it hasn’t completely sunk in yet.
“There is nothing more I can do. They have tied my hands and feet with red tape. I can’t sell it and I can’t renovate it because it would put the house in negative equity by about £200,000.”
Mr Pinchin bought the Georgian property in 2008 and estimates he has lost in the region of £90,000.
He collected hundreds of signatures from villagers who supported his plans to demolish the building which has become an eyesore and a haven for anti-social behaviour.
He added: “I was so confident I would get approval for demolition with all the support I have had from the public and political figures.
“I just want to apologise to the village. I have tried my best, but the place will remain an eyesore for another 20 years or so.”
Mr Pinchin enlisted the help of Cllr Matt Wright, the council’s executive member for tourism, who is furious at the decision. He said: “To say I am furious would be an understatement. Due to restrictive planning laws we have empty and derelict buildings in Wales at a time when people need homes.
“Local views and the decision of our own elected planning committee, to whom I put Mr Pinchin’s case, have been overruled by a distant bureaucracy.
“The decision lacks common sense and planning law has to be changed by the Welsh Assembly Government to be more balanced and reasonable.
“We are going to be left with a derelict building and the hopes and aspirations of this gentleman have been overidden.”
A letter to Mr Pinchin outlining the decision from Teresa Davies, head of decisions branch at the WAG, said: “In the inspector’s view the loss of Bryn Awel would have an adverse impact on the setting of the listed cart house/stables, which are in close proximity to the farm.
“He does not consider the applicant has shown that the cost of repairing and maintaining the building outweighs its importance and the value derived from its retention. He is also not persuaded that the proposal would give rise to substantial benefits for the community which would outweigh the resulting loss from the demolition.
“The proposed demolition would conflict with national and local policy relating to the protection of historic buildings.”
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