AN ESTATE agency’s plans to set up a new base at a Monmouthshire farm have been dashed by the local authority.

David James and Partners (DJP) had applied for permission to convert a Dutch barn on Sycamore Farm, Llandevenny, into an office building.

The rural property firm had hoped to open a new office close to Magor after merging with Newland Rennie last May.

The barn conversion had been proposed after the two firms failed on several occasions to secure suitable office space within the area.

But Monmouthshire County Council’s planning committee heard on Tuesday that the development would be unsuitable as it would more akin to a new-build.

Craig O’Connor, development management area manager for the council, said: “We don’t feel this is a conversion of an existing building given the substantial amount of rebuild that would be needed to convert it into a structure.

“It is tantamount to a new build in the open countryside, which would be contrary to well-established national and local policies.”

A representative appearing on behalf of DJP Newland Rennie said the plans would retain as much of the building, previously used for storing hay, as possible.

The meeting also heard that the applicants were seeking permission to complete a track which currently provides the landowner access to existing agricultural buildings.

The track would have been extended across the field to provide access for the eight members of staff DJP Newland Rennie had hoped to relocate to Sycamore Farm.

Mr O’Connor said the development would be “unjustifiable” but underlined the council’s commitment to working with rural businesses.

“It’s certainly not the case that we’re not working to support rural businesses, it’s just this type of building is not suitable for conversion,” he said.

Conservative councillor Maureen Powell added: “You’ve got a roof, a couple of pillars and very little else. It would be a completely new build. It is the countryside and even though there are houses, [the barn] is virtually in the middle of the field.”

The decision to refuse the application was supported with 11 votes in favour, with one abstention.