IT’S a building that’s been in Stuart Pierce’s family for generations.
The 19th-century barn was passed down from the coal deliveryman’s grandmother to his father and he wants to restore it to its former glory in order to keep the little piece of history in the family.
But Mr Pierce’s dream of converting the building into a home has become a nightmare after Kirklees Council officials overturned permission they granted four years ago.
Today the 38-year-old is £100,000 poorer and facing bankruptcy, as well as the bleak prospect that the house he has worked so hard to create will never be completed.
Building work on the two-bedroom property ground to a halt last year after Kirklees planners decided that the barn at Pole Moor had become too dilapidated to be converted.
The council has since refused two further applications to allow the work to continue and Mr Pierce has been forced to take his case to an independent planning inspector.
All he can do now is to wait and see if he can get his dream home back on track.
Mr Pierce, who is now living in a caravan, said: “This whole thing has been a nightmare. I’ve done everything by the book and through no fault of my own this has happened to me.
“If I win planning permission I would have to pay more money to get the work carried out. But I can’t just get the planning consent and sell it on. I have to persevere.
“Without planning consent I have a plot of land I can’t build on. I could turn it back to a barn – which is no use to me – or I could carry on paying a mortgage for 25 years with nothing to show for it.
“If my appeal is rejected it will mean that I either have to take it further to the High Court or go bankrupt. It’s a life-changing decision.”
Kirklees gave Mr Pierce planning consent to convert the two-storey barn, which dates back to 1862, in June, 2004.
He hired a builder for the project, but underpinning work led to problems which caused the barn to partially collapse.
In March last year Kirklees told Mr Pierce he would have to submit a fresh planning application before the work could continue.
Mr Pierce submitted two applications last year, but they were refused after planners said the extent of work required to make things right would be like building a new house in the Green Belt.
Mr Pierce’s family’s history in Pole Moor goes back generations. His brother’s cottage, formerly owned by his grandfather, once housed the Colne Valley’s last working spinning jenny machine.
Mr Pierce is keen to retain the barn so that his family’s presence in the area can continue for years to come.
He said: “If I was a big developer trying to build 60 properties to make a profit, then fair enough. But this planning application isn’t about the value of the property; it’s about going back to where I was brought up as a kid.
“I’ve lived in Pole Moor for 28 years, on and off, and my family have lived there for generations. It might be 100 years since my ancestors started living there.”