Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Critics Brushed Off

Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Critics Brushed Off

Article excerpt

Byline: By Linda Wicker

A farmer who was accused of spoiling the view in what Ruskin described as one of the loveliest scenes "in the world" has won a court appeal to paint his barn bright red and blue.

Sheep farmer Thomas Wharton was told to `tone down' the paintwork on his steel and timber hayshed after he daubed one wall in 30 foot high stripes.

But the angry stockman, who picked up his paintbrush after a quarrel with local planners, refused and took his case to South Lakeland Magistrates' Court.

And the court decided the stripes should stay ( to the dismay of South Lakeland District Council.

The blot-on-the-landscape barn is part of Mr Wharton's farm at Kirfit Hall at Casterton, Cumbria, in the famously idyllic rural landscape known as Ruskin's View.

The scene was immortalised by the 19th century painter JMW Turner, and described by John Ruskin himself as: "One of the loveliest scenes in England therefore in the world. I do not know in all my country, still less in France or Italy, a place more naturally divine."

Mr Wharton was accused of spoiling the view when he painted the stripes as a protest after being refused planning permission to convert the barn into accommodation.

At the time, South Lakeland District Council was unsure about whether it had any powers to compel Mr Wharton to tone down his barn.

At a meeting of the planning committee in February, members were told that, under section 215 of the 1990 Planning Act, they could force Mr Wharton to re-paint his barn as it was damaging visual amenity.

The committee considered "that the amenity and character of the area as a whole outweighed any infringements over the enjoyment of the individual's personal property rights", and Mr Wharton was told that he must paint the offending barn either green or grey to blend in with its surroundings. Mr Wharton was warned should he fail to comply with the order within 28 days, he could find himself in front of magistrates. …

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