The Local Authority Building Control (LABC) Building Excellence Awards celebrate all that’s good in the construction industry.

The barns at Hornshay Farm, Nynehead, near Wellington, were in a poor state of repair – almost to the point of being lost altogether – but now have a new lease of life.

The project has been completed in such a way as to retain the original bucolic appearance of the farmstead which sits well in the existing rural environment. A total of seven homes including a holiday let/annexe have been created. One was sold “off plan” before the project was completed.

Before work started an extensive ecological survey was undertaken to establish the existence of bats and nesting birds. This revealed five different types of Bat using the barns together with nesting barn Swallows – as a result a Bat Mitigation licence was required.

This placed onerous conditions with regard to programming the work so as not to disturb roosting bats. A qualified ecologist also had to be on site to monitor and deal with any bats or wildlife encountered as the work progressed.

To minimise disruption to the bats prior to work starting detailed mitigation measures were put in place. The roof area of an off-site building was adapted for roosts to suit the specific needs of the bats along with various types of bat lighting work.

In order to accommodate nesting barn swallows work was programmed out of the nesting season to make ready alternative accommodation for returning swallows by constructing open fronted fully roofed garages on another site adjacent to barns.

The project has been carried out by Venture Property and Development Company, which has a great deal of experience in barn conversion work throughout the South West and is used to working closely with local authority building control departments in order to ensure it complies with all the necessary regulations.

A spokesman from Venture Property and Development Company said: “There are a great many unknowns when embarking on a large barn conversion project and it is therefore essential that the right team is in place in order to make any quick design and structural changes based on what is uncovered during the initial and ongoing build process. In order to achieve this we have formed a close working relationship with our principal designer Nick Ratcliff of Greenslade Taylor Hunt and Spencer House of Sands Structural Engineers both of whom we have worked with on a number of previous occasions with great success. Regular design meetings and inspections are also carried out to ensure quick and timely information is produced thus ensuring the project stays on track regarding build quality and program even when the unexpected happens.”

Experienced architect Nick Ratcliff RIBA is based at Greenslade Taylor Hunt’s Chard office. He and his team have been nominated in the best change of use of an existing building or conversion for Hornshay Farm, Nynehead, Wellington. The winners will be announced at an awards ceremony in Plymouth, on July 1.