A FAMILY-RUN farm has had its “future secured” after the owners were granted permission to build a cottage that will allow an additional worker to stay onsite.

The Furlongs, of Ridley Farm, Bardon Mill, had previously applied for permission to build the cottage in August 2020, but the application was dismissed as Northumberland County Council planners felt there was already suitable accommodation in the area.

The decision was upheld by the planning inspectorate following an appeal, and the resubmitted application was recommended for refusal by council officers.

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However, members of Tynedale Local Area Committee voted to go against the officer’s recommendations and grant permission.

Officers had recommended refusal on the grounds there was an existing cottage, known as Keeper’s Cottage, on the farm currently rented out to a private tenant.

However, the Furlongs pointed out this belonged to the family’s daughter, who had no stake in the farm and did not want to evict the tenant.

The farm is currently operated by Stuart Furlong and his son Edward.

Speaking at the meeting, Maria Ferguson, the application’s agent, said: “It is apparent there was a need for two workers to live on the farm. If not, Edward would not have spent 10 years living in a caravan onsite.

“There is a clear financial need for a second worker. It is imperative that Edward lives on the farm or there could be harm to livestock and the business. The Furlongs have farmed here for four generations. ”

Coun. Alan Sharp, who represents the Haydon and Hadrian ward that encompasses the farm, spoke in favour of the application.

He said: “I have been councillor here for many years and I know the farm very well. There is not a lot of accommodation available.

“The son needs to be on the farm working with his father. I don’t understand what the planning inspector is saying – the clear fact is that Keeper’s Cottage is not suitable accommodation. It is not available to the family.”

But Coun. Anne Dale was concerned about the precedent allowing the application would set.

She said: “There have been a lot of other applications voted down. The inspectorate has been very clear.

“I have great concern about setting a precedent for future farming and future use of farm cottages. It does let the gateway open.

“I just find it very difficult when there’s other buildings there.”

Despite Coun. Dale’s concerns, the application was passed by eight votes to four, with three against and one abstention.