Several more months have now passed while we have been working closely with our design/build team to make progress on the detail of what we hope to achieve at Oak Tree Barn, and we have now secured additional planning permission to build both a garage at the back of the building and a dormer in the roof. The addition of these gives us the possibility of an upstairs bathroom and space in which to keep the tools and equipment required to maintain the land. It has, needless to say, not been without its moments of frustration, notably the ‘bat saga’.
Despite falling outside any of the conditions requiring a bat survey of the property the planning officer decided that a survey was indeed required, and that nothing would progress without one. We were not concerned, justly mildly irritated to have to shell out another sum of money for a specialist ecologist to tell us what we knew “no bats to be found here”. We were entirely confident, so somewhat dismayed to put it mildly when I arrived just moments after the ecologist to be told “we’ve found a couple already”! We had previously looked around for any evidence and found nothing, but sure enough bat droppings on the window sill were there for all to see! This resulted in a further twilight survey being necessary, at this stage we had visions of the entire building secretly harbouring entire colonies of the little creatures and our whole project being halted there and then. As it turns out, it was probably just a couple of visiting bats and they seem to have left around the same time as the ecologist as there has been no evidence of them since……… I have been wondering how easy it is to just sprinkle a few bat droppings around!!
However, we gained our permission and plans are coming together. We have had several meetings with the architect and designer who have been admirably patient in listening to my ever evolving ideas, and we have some great images of how it might all look on completion – take a look at my Pinterest boards for a taste of what’s to come. We are now awaiting contracts to sign, but have an anticipated build start date of 22nd August.
The barn is empty now and feels ready to start its transformation. It continues to feel like just the right spot, my heart lifts as I approach the village and I can breathe more deeply while I’m there. Yesterday we spent a glorious few hours in the sunshine mowing, weeding, pottering and enjoying a picnic right there in what will be our garden. Just to reassure those harrumphing about ‘rural idyl’ I’ll reassure you that this was to the background noise of a builder and jackhammer examining the concrete slab on which the barn sits!