National Trust plans for historic farmstead near Winchelsea

Crutches Farm
Crutches Farm

The National Trust has put forward a series of plans to develop an historic farmstead near Winchelsea.

Known as the farmstead of Crutches Farm, the site is made up of a number of historic and modern agricultural buildings off the A259, between Icklesham and Winchelsea. 

Crutches Farm Oast

Crutches Farm Oast

In a series of linked applications to Rother District Council, the National Trust is seeking planning permission to bring the site back into use by converting a number of the historic buildings into homes and holiday lets. 

As part of the wider proposals, several of the modern buildings – including a bungalow once owned by the TV entertainer Rod Hull – are expected to be demolished. However, details of these individual applications have not yet been made public.

According to the application, the original agricultural buildings are not themselves listed but have some protections in association with the (privately-owned) Grade II listed Winchelsea Farmhouse. As a result, the applications are also seeking listed building consent.

In its application, a spokesman for the heritage conservation charity said: “It is considered development will reflect the values and aims of The National Trust in bringing important buildings into the use which benefit the long term future and retention of the historic assets.

“The development proposed will improve the current conditions on site, taking away the farming activities which no longer can utilise these buildings and bring benefits to the public, to the appearance of the site … and in relation to the adjacent listed farmhouse.”

The applications include proposals to convert a black timber barn and a traditional oast house (both built sometime in the 19th century) into residential homes. 

Two other buildings – a fattening lodge and a stables – are also proposed for conversion, although these would be holiday lets rather than residential homes. The fattening lodge was also built sometime in the 19th century, while the stables could date back as far as 1799.

In the application, a spokesman for the National Trust said: “Having regard to significance including setting, it is considered that Crutches Farm is as the point where it needs to enter a new phase in its evolution. 

“As pointed out, the individual farm buildings are not listed – it is the farmhouse that is. Therefore … the approach to conversion and reuse should be less stringent, exercising a less oppressive and myopic approach to their optimal and viable use.

“Change will arise but in the context of being curtilage listed and special interest vested in the group, those changes can be easily absorbed and would not be overly apparent in the wider setting and experience of the farmstead.

“Overall the changes proposed are positive.”

For further details of the proposals see application references RR/2019/2643/P, RR/2019/2647/P, RR/2019/2649/P and RR/2019/2636/L on the Rother District Council planning website.