Villagers and parish councillors have called for an historic barn in Austrey to be restored rather than pulled down and replaced with two new houses.
And borough councillors are so concerned about the state of the grade II listed building and the adjacent farmhouse next door that they have set up a special committee to meet with the owners and bash out an urgent plan to stop their further deterioration.
Plans filed with North Warwickshire Borough Council asked that the single-storey barn on Main Road, Austrey, be dismantled and rebuilt to create the new properties, using as many of the original materials as possible.
But members of the council’s planning board decided on Monday to reject the plans after hearing that there had been objections from a number of organisations including Historic England, the Society for the Preservation of Ancient Buildings and The Council for British Archaeology.
Permission has already been granted for the farmhouse’s restoration and planning officer Jeff Brown explained that while that had started, work had stalled.
He explained: “The buildings are joined and in order to complete the restoration, part of the barn would have to be dismantled.
“The applicant is saying that if that is dismantled then it is highly likely that the existing barn will collapse because of its state so an application has been submitted to dismantle the barn and effectively replace that with two new units.”
Tony Treadwell, chairman of Austrey Parish Council, said villagers hoped the barn could be restored to its former glory.
He told the meeting: “We strongly believe it should not be dismantled but restored in its entirety. At a planning meeting last June we were told that the building would be protected and watertight by September. Since then, no-one has been anywhere near the property.
“We understand and appreciate that the building is currently in an extremely poor state but it is our belief that it has been left without protective covering by the owners over many months so that they can use its poor state as an excuse to demolish it.”
Planning agent Ian Ritchie explained that his client had already invested a large sum in the buildings and wanted to continue the restoration work as soon as possible.
He added: “The proposal for the replacement of the barn is critical to the viability of the project. My client was hoping to have the roof back on by now but that can’t be done without actually making a disconnection with the barn.
“It is important to understand how much of the barn is actually original heritage fabric - the asbestos roof is not and neither is the majority of the structure. The actual element is tiny.”