‘Developers want millions for this field - but I want to protect the countryside’ says Barford landowner

David Smith-Ryland at the field he owns in Barford with Barford Hill Stables in the background.
David Smith-Ryland at the field he owns in Barford with Barford Hill Stables in the background.

A landowner has turned down a possible multi-million pound windfall by saying ‘no’ to developers keen to build houses on his land.

Developer Rosconn expressed an interest in the 5.5 acre field in Hareway Lane, Barford, which is in close proximity to Junction 15 of the M40 and just outside of the village’s conservation area boundary.

Barford, like Radford Semele and Bishops Tachbrook, is not constrained by the green belt and the field could potentially provide space for around 50 new houses.

But David Smith-Ryland, whose family have owned the Sherbourne Park/Barford Hill estate since 1837, told The Courier that he would rather protect the countryside than take the money from the developers.

After being approached by the developers, he said: “I am not interested in applying for planning permission on the land because of the negative impact any development would have on the landscape in the area, including blocking the view of the attractive old Barford Hill Stables.

“I would not like to see in Barford development on a scale similar to that which is taking place in Wellesbourne.”

This, he has said, is in spite of him being able to gain “around £2 million” from a development project taking place on the field, which he currently rents out to a dog walking business.

Mr Smith-Ryland, who owns 775 acres in the south of the estate, said his family has a history of benevolent land ownership.

During the agricultural crisis of the late 1920s and early 1930s, his grandfather Charles Ivor forgave the rent of many of the tenant farmers for four years running to help ease the pressure on them.

Like many large houses belonging to land owners in the post-war era, Barford Hill House was demolished in 1955 its gardens were divided into seven plots where single houses which back onto the River Avon now stand.

Sherbourne Park is now the family seat of the Smith-Rylands.

Mr Smith-Ryland’s brother Robin lives at the house and owns 1,200 acres on the part of the estate which is to the north of the River Avon.

Barford residents opposed to new houses in and around the village have had mixed fortunes in recent months.

In June, Warwick District Council gave permission for developer Taylor Wimpey to build 63 new homes on land off Bremridge Close, which is located between the village and the A429.

Villager Claire Kime said: “I am disgusted that this plan has been approved when the Local Plan has not been approved.

“It makes a mockery out of the Local Plan.”

Toby Jones, another resident, said: “We are extremely disappointed by this decision, which we think is flawed and will deliver a compromised residential development that is too big for the limited site access.”

In March, 30 houses proposed to be built on Wasperton Lane were among those a government inspector suggested to be removed from the plan.