A Family who spent two years living in a caravan after their farm house burnt down has been given planning permission to build a new home within grounds of the former farm house site.

David and Jean Shepard lost their family home at Old Manor Farm in Chandlers Lane, Bishops Cannings when the grade 2 listed building burnt down in April 2017.

80 per cent of the home was gutted, as firefighters and 11 engines attempted to salvage their possessions.

The Old Manor was owned by the Crown Estates which had not insured the property, as since then the Shepards, who had lived the for 35 years, have been living in a caravan at the site.

Two agricultural buildings on the old farming site are now set to be transformed into two family homes, so that the couple can remain living in the village.

A recommendation to refuse planning permission was made by planning officers who said that the proposals would result in the “loss of the agricultural use and character of the site.”

However the objection was overturned by councillors during a planning meeting on Thursday, who described how the plans would replace something “old and useless” with “new and useful” housing.

Speaking in support of the plan, Bishops Cannings resident James Robson said: “The applicants are not property developers, they are long standing members of the community and village.

"They were forced to stand and watch their family home of 32 years burn to the ground.

“The crown irresponsibly in my view did not insure the building and for the past two years have shown no intention of re building it. Whereas lesser folk would have walked away, Dave and Jean have spent the last two years living in a caravan trying to rebuild their lives. These are modest, new homes on a piece of land with no future.”

Cllr Phillip Whitehead said: “These are dilapidated buildings that look ugly. For years I have seen them deteriorate and now they are an eye sore. The proposal is a modest and I would strongly recommend against the officers recommendation to refuse planning.”

Cllr Paul Oatway added: “This farmyard is dead. All small farms under one hectare are facing this reality and we need to help them to regenerate.”

Planning was granted for the new homes unanimously

Speaking after the meeting, Mr Shepard said: “In an ideal world it would have already been built as obviously we have been living in a caravan since the fire. It is good to have the support of the parish council as well as those members on the panel. We will get going as soon as possible now.”