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Our Green Story : South Park Farm Barn

05/05/2021

When guests choose to stay at the Barn they discover a property that has been converted from a former, ancient agricultural building to a modern residential dwelling completed to a high environmental standard. And that high standard pertains not just to the fabric of the building, as we aim to make every guest’s B&B experience as ecologically sensitive and complete as they can.

Acquired in 2014 the Barn was a derelict ruin sitting unloved in neglected pasture and overgrown woodland. It took us just under three years to wrestle suitable revised planning permission, assemble a team of craftsmen and skilled trades and then carry out the complex, demanding restoration, and conversion process.

The Barn that emerged from this intensive project in 2017 is strong, modern, comfortable and stylish. Its construction has addressed key sustainability considerations at every step in its use of materials and in its restoration process. It is a thermally efficient structure; is as airtight as an old Barn could be, is economical in its use of energy; and is remarkably open, light and warm inside with an unmistakably welcoming and benign aura.

The Barn’s strength lies in the structural, insulated shell that envelops the beautifully restored elm and oak frame, visible and tangible in its entirety throughout the structure. The modernity lies in clever yet sympathetic blending of glass, steel, wood, brick, and stone to create a building that is comfortable and stylish while still acknowledging its history and primary industry roots.

The authenticity of the Barn’s sustainable construction and of the materials used is unquestionable. It includes: natural insulation throughout the building and its shell – with not a trace of polyisocyanurate (insulation) anywhere; a breathable limestone floor set on a bed of twenty four cubic metres of limecrete – eliminating completely the use of concrete in the process; an air source heat pump-powered underfloor heating system to maintain a year-round comfortable habitat; a mechanically ventilated heat recovery system to make the most of the relatively airtight interior; and, the exclusive use of low energy LED lighting to reveal skilfully every detail of the Barn.

This commitment to environmental sensitivity extends to the land surrounding the Barn, too. In the three acres of now reclaimed grounds that surround the Barn we have so far planted twenty mature young trees to complement the established oak-dominated woodland that sits to the west and south of the Barn, as well as one hundred metres of hedgerow made up of mixed native varieties. An acre of recently sown wildflower meadow has already shown of its best in its first two seasons – with poppies, ox-eye daisies, cornflowers, and corn marigolds prolific among the many varieties in bloom.

When it comes to guest accommodation the building and its parkland are only part of the sustainability story.  We have also set about ensuring that our guests’ experience in staying at the Barn matches their construction of an environmentally sound building. Most guests will remain unaware that: the electricity they use comes from purely renewable generation sources; the ambient living environment is balanced by an energy-efficient mechanically ventilated heat recovery system and an invisible heat pump-powered underfloor heating system; the instant hot water they enjoy in their bathrooms comes courtesy of an energy-sparing secondary circulation system; and, the cleanliness of their rooms, linen and towels depends wholly on the application of ecologically sound cleaning and laundry materials. At least in wandering through the parkland the signs of this commitment to sustainability are more readily visible and tangible to the Barn’s guests.

Where possible and practical, the provision of breakfast foodstuff sources regional produce to minimise food miles. Of all the sustainability-supportive activities this remains the biggest challenge. It is a work-in-progress that we constantly address while catering to the dietary expectations and requirements of their many guests.

Many people ask us why we took on this onerous challenge. We wanted another adventure in our lives. We surely found one. Our journey continues.