A CENTRE hosting meditation courses in Herefordshire is asking the council if it can knock down eight buildings and remove 10 caravans so it can building 11 new buildings and 13 new extensions.
The mediation centre in Pencoyd, between Hereford and Ross-on-Wye, runs courses on mindfulness, and wants more space for activities and accommodation, planning documents submitted to Herefordshire Council revealed.
A farmhouse on the site would be one of the buildings to be demolished, if plans are approved, as it is “not suitable” and expensive to maintain . It’s also proposed caravans currently occupied by staff are taken away.
The Vipassana Trust purchased what became Dhamma Dipa in 1991 and has run meditation courses using all the original and some added accommodation since.
The site has been continually developed over recent years with the first new purpose made building, a communal shower block, opened in 1999.
This was followed by a meditation hall in 2003, and two teachers’ residences in 2005. The first new student accommodation, single rooms, opened in 2008, then the kitchen, dining and office building was brought into service in 2009.
From this time Dhamma Dipa has been able to host 128 course students to “meditate, sleep, dine, exercise and wash with the necessary support of teachers and servers who all require the same accommodation”, documents said.
In the years since, planning as been granted for further buildings and small conversions, but now applicant Yuta Fairs-Billam wants to remove eight buildings and 10 caravans, and build 11 buildings for accommodation, 13 extensions for facilities, a water tower in their place, as well as relocating vehicular access, increasing car parking spaces from 64 to 74 and associated landscaping.
A planning statement said: “The purpose of the proposed development is twofold; to replace deteriorated farm buildings with purpose designed student and server accommodation and to realise The Vipassana Trust’s vision for single bedroom accommodation for all students and servers rather than the twin or dormitories currently provided, so that everyone can get the maximum benefit from the meditation courses provided.”
It added: “The principal of new buildings on site has already been established by way of previous planning consents.
“The proposed buildings with the exception of one, are single storey and will relate well to the existing buildings on site in terms of design and massing.
“The site is well screened with mature dense trees and planting and therefore the proposed development will not be visible from public vantage points.”
The statement acknowledged planners’ comments in the pre-application response that it would be regretful to lose the farmhouse and its loss would need to be justified.
“Since the pre-app, the applicant has obtained a prior approval for the demolition of the farmhouse, application reference 201430,” the statement added.
“The applicant is therefore at liberty to remove the building at any time over the next five years and given that the building is not suitable, sustainable and expensive to maintain, the applicant intends to remove it.
“The council therefore should give this application weight in the determination of this application.”
Herefordshire Council is set to make a decision on application 204557 after March 25.
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