A Cornish farming family have begged for ‘leniency’ over their home plan.

The family say that the future of their 100-year-old business depends on building a home on their farm for the next generation.

They begged for ‘leniency’ after Cornwall Council’s planning department recommended that their proposal for a four-bedroom house should be refused.

The Doidge family applied for permission to build a two-storey house on land at Brendon Farm at Trewidland, near St Keyne, Liskeard, in order for their son Ed to be available on site 24/7 to help his father with lambing and calving. However, planners said it would fail to accord with the “council’s spatial strategy for the delivery of housing” and would result in the erosion of the character of the landscape in an unsustainable location.

At a planning meeting on Monday, March 18, the council’s east area planning committee heard from the chairman of St Keyne And Trewidland Parish Council. Cllr Kevin Shovelton said his council believed the application met an essential need, particularly around lambing and calving, and an exception should be made in this case to enable a second full-time worker to remain on site.

He told councillors: “The family have been farming here for 100 years – they’ve built it up into a profitable enterprise and plan to increase stock numbers, which supports the needs for two full-time workers on site. The second worker currently lives in Menheniot, a round-trip of around 40 minutes, which they have to make several times a day. Living on site will end these journeys and reduce their carbon footprint.

“We feel it’s vital to keep young people and their families in the countryside for the sustainability of rural enterprise. Here we have a young, hard-working, forward-thinking family who want to be part of their rural community, with an ambition to produce high quality, sustainable food for the country.”

Sophie Holland, spoke on behalf of her partner Ed, who would be the second worker supporting his father who lives on the farm. She said living on the farm would be vital for the family, including their three children, aged five, three and two.

She said: “I ask for leniency. The last three years have been unusually turbulent, for a number of reasons, even in the context of a turbulent industry. Without the additional dwelling, the possibilities for expansion and business changes are limited. Over the next five years we would like to increase our ewe numbers to 500 and breeding cows to 100. This is only achievable if we are on site to support this.

“By allowing the dwelling, it will allow the business to expand and develop. It will reconnect our family, allowing for an immersive learning environment for our children … the next generation. It will increase animal welfare standards and improve lone worker health and safety concerns.

“It would reduce the impact of mental health and isolation due to having the support of the children and myself; farming being three times the national average of men suffering from negative mental health and suicide. It will mean our children will no longer have to go months with little connection with their father due to lambing and calving demands.”

Local member Cllr Armand Toms (Ind, Looe East and Deviock) supported her, adding that the application was well supported by every person he’d spoken to in the parish. “A recent motion to council from members gave full support for farmers and by refusing this it will have an impact on a farming business. Without this second person living on site the business will not grow, the current farmer is in his 60s and needs support.”

Cllr Barry Jordan (Cons, Camelford and Boscastle) was not so sure. “I was brought up on a farm so I understand the need for farming and properties, but this suggests to me you’re building a mansion in the open countryside if you look at the plans.” He was told the house was plotted away from other buildings due to the family’s plans for expansion.

Cllr Andrew Long (Mebyon Kernow/Green, Callington and St Dominic) added: “We’re in a food production crisis. We are losing land we shouldn’t be losing across the UK away from agriculture. We need to be supporting farmers who are producing food locally and reducing our food miles.”

Cllr John Fitter (Ind, St Columb Minor and Colan) said agriculture was the most important industry in Cornwall and he had no problem at all in supporting the application. Cllr Dominic Fairman (Lib Dem, St Teath and Tintagel division) added it was a weakness of the council’s local plans that succession planning on farms was not addressed.

Councillors went against the officer’s recommendation and voted unanimously to approve on the grounds that it was an essential countryside need.