Wingfield Castle owner victorious in High Court battle

VILLAGE SIGN - WINGFIELD ENGANL00120121029155011

VILLAGE SIGN - WINGFIELD ENGANL00120121029155011

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The owner of a medieval castle in Wingfield has triumphed in his court battle to block residential conversion of neighbouring, historic barns.

He claimed the plan would harm the setting of his castle, accusing Mid Suffolk District Council of failing in its conservation duties. Now one of the country’s top judges has ruled that the local authority’s decision was based on “significantly misleading” reports from its heritage team.

Michael Lyndon-Stanford, who lives at the Grade I listed Wingfield Castle, challenged the grant by the council of planning permission for redevelopment of the Castle Farm Barns, which are themselves Grade II listed. The “misleading” reports referred to related to Mr Lyndon-Stanford’s attempts to buy the crumbling barns. He still hopes to be able to buy and preserve them.

Deputy judge John Howell QC, setting the scene, said that the moated castle dates back to around 1385, and was partially demolished after it was seized by Henry VIII in the 16th Century. One original wall remains, and the castle was repaired and rebuilt in around 1544.

The judge added that the adjacent barns are also Grade II listed buildings of “special architectural and historic interest”, and said that they have a “close visual relationship” with the castle. However, they were sold into separate ownership as part of a farm during the 20th century.

Mr Lyndon-Stanford says that in 2006, he tried to buy the barns, which have their origins in Tudor times, in order to preserve them. But he says the owners, Duncan and Peter West, withdrew from negotiations. Then, in 2009, the barns were placed on the “buildings at risk” register due to their condition.

In 2015 though, the Wests and Warren Hill Farms made their application for planning permission and listed building consent to convert the barns into three homes. Historic England and Mr Lyndon-Stanford objected to the plan but the Council’s development control committee over-rode their objections and approved the project, granting listed building consent in March and planning permission in April.

Mr Lyndon-Stanford attacked the way the Council addressed the impact of the proposed redevelopment on the setting of Wingfield Castle, and its consideration of whether there was an alternative means of securing their future.

He argued that the development will “harm the setting” of his castle, which is one of the most important medieval houses in the country and was first built in the late 14th Century.

Quashing the decision, the judge said that the reports on which the decision was made were “misleading” because they wrongly gave the impression that Mr Lyndon-Stranford had been offered multiple opportunities to buy the barns but had failed to do so.

The Council, which will now have to reconsider the application, had argued that the decision would have been the same even if the correct informati