News / Farm Diversification: Dovecote Barns, Mount Farm, Kelfield, York

Farm Diversification: Dovecote Barns, Mount Farm, Kelfield, York 

Since the end of the 1940s, the face of farming has changed dramatically. This change has manifested itself in many ways. The agricultural workforce fell from 900,000 at the end of the 1940s to 182,900 in 2012. The number of farmers has also fallen but not at such a dramatic rate. New machinery, farming techniques, crop storage methods, means that traditional built farms now have many buildings that are no longer fit for the purpose they were intended. This major change in farming practices has forced many farmers to look to new revenue streams and farm diversification.

Farmers are also under increasing pressure to consider changes in land use and tackle issues such as the loss of biodiversity, carbon sequestration and climate change and once again this means they are having to change their working practices. It is hard to imagine a sector that worries more about the weather than farming. Considering their business is substantially affected by the unpredictability of nature, it is no surprise that farmers not only follow daily weather fluctuations but are also concerned about long-term weather patterns and therefore it is in their interest to help find solutions to reduce the rate of climate change.

Mr & Mrs Bramley at Manor Farm, Kelfield are now exemplars in their sector who have diversified into new areas that do not use the land showing how farmers can adapt and help tackle issues such as climate change. Their diversification into tourism began in 2008 by converting three of their old cottages/barns into five-star eco self-catering luxury holiday lets ‘Dovecote Barns’. This project won many awards for green tourism, including the Green Tourism Gold Status.

The cottages are all heated by a single biomass boiler. This boiler supplies the hot water for each of the cottage’s, whilst electricity is produced using 118 photovoltaic panels which is fed into the power grid.  There is electric vehicle charging available for guests use.

Holiday makers are offered locally sourced Yorkshire produce and sustainable green products where at all possible.  The careful management of the heat and electricity produced from renewable sources means that the farm produces twice as much energy as it consumes.

The farm has also adopted their land use to increase, create and maintain biodiversity through hedgerow management and providing buffer strips alongside the edges of cropped fields and cover cropping. Thousands of hedgerow plants have been planted along with acres of wild birdseed crops. An RSPB survey has shown a large increase in bird populations since the environmental work started.

The latest project in the continuing diversification at Manor Farm is the extension of an old granary into further accommodation and a functional space, known as the Grand Barn and Long Hall.  Downstairs the ‘Long Hall’ has been extended to allow it to be configured for multiple uses, with a 100 sqm space suitable for occasion dining,  displays, yoga retreats, combined with an additional 209sqm of accommodation it’s potential uses are endless.

The upstairs known as, ‘The Grand Barn’ has four double bedrooms, all with their own en-suites.

When it came to appointing an architect to carry out their diversification project then Native made a natural partner. Together we have remarkably similar ethical beliefs. Adaptive re-use of old buildings can, with sympathetic restoration, ethically sourced building materials, traditional craftsmanship and low carbon technology give them a new economic future. Preserving them not just for this generation, but for the next generation too.

Native have designed the ‘Grand Barn’ and ‘Long Hall’ to maximise energy efficiency by using natural insulation products such as wood fibre ensuring the building is insulated far beyond the requirements of building regulations. The windows are fitted with high performance glazing and the building is also be connected to the central biomass boiler.

If you too are thinking of diversification and looking to renovate old buildings effectively and ethically for office space, tourism, or other uses, whether they be on a farm or another location, speak to Native Architects. We are not just a practice that preaches, we are a practice that practices what it preaches. For a taste of what is possible, why not call us and come and look for yourself at our own award-winning offices, The Granary at Lingcroft Farm, York and see for yourself how we too ethically and sympathetically converted an 18th-century granary into a modern workspace.

Whether you are a farmer or not, if this article has sown a seed in your mind about a building restoration and rejuvenation project then call Native Architects and lets us help you to unlock it’s potential.

CLICK HERE for further information on Dovecote Barns