Wednesday, August 06, 2008

Ripe for redevelopment?

click photo to enlarge
Each time my wife and I pass a tumbledown barn or an uninhabited and dilapidated cottage or farm, one of us says, "Ripe for redevelopment?" and the other smiles. We are referring to an estate agent's advertising copy next to a photograph of an absolute wreck of a building that we'd once read incredulously. In those distant days such buildings were regularly being rebuilt and turned into dwellings, often because planning permission was easier to acquire, especially in rural areas, when there was a "building" already on the site.

However, the recent credit crunch is likely to put a brake on such redevelopments, and picturesque piles will crumble for a few more years until the housing market picks up again. My post of the other day talked about rural depopulation, and across many areas of the country famhouses that were abandoned when farmers left the land and holdings were amalgamated, now stand empty: in Lincolnshire they are a reasonably common sight. Changes in farming practices mean that many barns no longer have a use, and these too are left to slowly decay. In places like the Yorkshire Dales, North Lancashire and Cumbria the barns are stone-built and much sought after for conversion into houses, to the point where planning permission is now difficult to secure. In Lincolnshire, they are usually made of brick, and conversions are quite commonly seen.

Today's photograph shows a barn that is part of an abandoned farm near the seventeenth century South Forty Foot Drain. The buildings look like they date from the nineteenth century, and the signs are that they fell out of use in the 1970s. Most of the structures are roofed, and the walls still stand, but the windows are all gone, and gutters and drainpipes hang at crazy angles. The fruit trees, once so carefully tended are growing wild, and former hedges are tangled masses of vegetation. Walking amongst the buildings I thought about the people who lived here; how hard it must have been to give up their home and their life's work, and wondered how they made the transition to fresh jobs, retirement, or whatever the next phase of their lives brought.

photograph & text (c) T. Boughen

Camera: Olympus E510
Mode: Aperture Priority
Focal Length: 64mm (128mm/35mm equiv.)
F No: f8
Shutter Speed: 1/125
ISO: 100
Exposure Compensation: 0 EV
Image Stabilisation: On