Traditional historic farm buildings
Rother's countryside has a highly distinctive and important architectural character by way of settlement pattern and building typologies. The historic hamlets and farmsteads of the High Weald create a distinct and picturesque landscape, with the rolling pastureland and small ancient woodlands of the countryside interspersed with the rich clay-tiled roofs of medieval houses, barns, and oasts.
The buildings themselves reflect locally distinct historic agricultural practices, for example the distinctive brick roundels of the hop industry's oast houses, fine timber-framed barns and modest brick cowsheds and outbuildings.
Traditional historic farm buildings also often have wildlife benefits, offering valuable habitats. Traditional historic farm buildings are generally considered to be those dating from pre 1880, though there may be other pre-war buildings, either late Victorian or Edwardian that are of interest in a farmstead or landscape context and may be worthy of retention.
Because of the importance of these historic farm buildings, their repair, retention and continued use or re-use is considered important in the district's countryside, and relevant policies are contained in the Rother Local Plan and in the Core Strategy.
Historic England (formerly 'English Heritage') have produced a range of guidance for the repair and re-use of traditional farm buildings:
This study analyses the character of rural settlement and farming in the South East, and particularly within the High Weald, within which the majority of the District's countryside falls. This highlights the historic typical small farm sizes, leading to small 'farmsteads' of mostly dispersed cluster plans or loose courtyards, and typically consisting of just the farmhouse, one large multi-purpose barn, and perhaps an oast house or a small open-fronted outbuilding.
This document looks at options for the future uses of traditional farm buildings, from continued agricultural use, through other commercial uses, to residential, and considers the implications on the vitality of the countryside, and the physical implications on individual building types, and their settings, of different types of use.
This document includes a brief analysis of types of farm buildings and materials, and more detailed advice on building maintenance and repairs to timber frames, brick and stonework, roofing materials, floors, mortars and rainwater goods.
It also includes advice on grant funding for traditional farm building repairs for buildings continuing in agricultural use via the agri-environmental schemes now administered by Natural England.
This document gives specific advice to ensure the retention of the built heritage of the local countryside, in terms of the distinctive character of traditional agricultural buildings, their farmstead and wider landscape setting, external appearance, and internal character and features, in any conversion or re-use proposal. This includes the avoidance of the domestication of the building or its setting by means of inappropriate alterations, new development, access arrangements and hardstandings or boundary treatments, both at the time of conversion and for already converted buildings.
Of particular importance at a local level is maintaining the internal spatial qualities of timber framed barns, the historic fabric of timber frames, the elevational character of their cart-bay entrances, and the uninterrupted brick walling of oast house roundels.
Bats are often found in traditional buildings because they provide a large number of measures into buildings that will attract potential roosting places, and their design offers many entry points.