Behind the scenes at Old Grove Farm

Sympathetic restoration and transformation of a 17th-century farmstead.


Over the past year, the Barr Build team have had the privilege of working with Wolff Architects and our wonderfully engaged clients on the sympathetic conversion of their farmstead's listed 17th-century cow and cart sheds.

The estate is home to an extensive array of beautiful red brick old farm buildings, a section of which forms three sides of an enclosed front courtyard. When our clients purchased the property three years ago, the derelict buildings were in urgent need of repair, but they were as yet unsure of how they should be repurposed.

Having begun works with internal alterations and redecoration of the main farmhouse, including full plumbing and heating renovation serving the entire estate going forward, the Barr Build team went on to commence works on the barns, a redbrick horseshoe of outbuildings on the east side of the main courtyard. Wolff Architects obtained planning and listed building consent for internal alterations to the main farmhouse, as well as conservation of the historic cow and cart sheds to accommodate modern family living, and the Barr Build team were privileged to bring their plans to fruition.


Andy Willett, Project Architect, shared his approach to the months of careful planning and design work that preceded the works on-site at Old Grove Farm. The process not only involved shaping and evolving the existing derelict barns into a standalone bedroom and living suite but also tackled some intensive ecological, archaeological, and heritage challenges.

Design: "The client brief was to convert the dilapidated former cow and cart shed into a master bedroom suite with an adjoining library and dressing room, linked to the main farmhouse by an existing door in the playroom. The design proposals were considered to represent a practicable and sensitive alteration to the existing farmhouse and cow sheds. Careful design consideration was made to resolve the need to sensitively respect and preserve the property's character, appearance, and configuration with the opportunity to provide enhanced living accommodation conducive to modern family living. There were lots of restrictions imposed with the conditions attached to the listed building consent and planning application, but we were able to design a scheme that both the planning authorities and our clients were very happy with."

Ecological Planning: "A further important consideration was bats and newts! A planning condition was that the development would be implemented in accordance with the recommendations set out in the ecology assessments and biodiversity enhancement plan from the ecological consultant Hankinson Duckett Associates Ltd. Following the ecologists' guidance with regard to bats and Great Crested Newts, we included the formation of the new bat loft above the carport. Following the recordings of Great Crested Newts on site, our clients were required to obtain a Low Impact Licence from Natural England to carry out groundworks under an ecological watching brief."

Archaeological Importance: "In addition to the ecological considerations, we were required to secure the implementation of a programme of archaeological work in accordance with a written scheme of investigation submitted and approved in writing by the local planning authority. An archaeological/building recording consultant was present on-site during the excavation works."

From a listed buildings perspective, the sympathetic restoration of the barns was of utmost importance to our clients, Historic England, and the wider project team. From the sub-floor upward, every measure was taken to preserve and match the existing buildings. A limecrete floor slab to the cowshed was specified as a condition in the planning and listed building consent — allowing the barns to breathe, preventing rising damp, and therefore future-proofing the structures. Similarly, lime mortar and reclaimed imperial red bricks and reclaimed roof tiles were carefully matched to the existing. Inside the existing brick setts, which covered the base of the oldest part of the cowsheds, were carefully removed and stored to be re-laid in the same formation during phase two of the works planned for 2024.

The Barr Build team are thrilled with the results of the Grove Farm phase one project and look forward to embracing future chapters in the farmstead's ongoing structural story. We thank our clients for allowing us to share the progress so far.

The Barr Build team are thrilled with the results of the Grove Farm phase one project and look forward to embracing future chapters in the farmstead's ongoing structural story. We thank our clients for allowing us to share the progress so far.

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