Rode Manor Estate, Somerset

A common sense planning case for the optimum management model                                                            

Rode Manor is a small country estate near the Somerset village of the same name. It lost its manor house in the 1950s when many country house owners fell on hard times. But its extensive arboretum, stables and ancillary buildings remained and became the centre of a very popular bird garden visitor attraction. The business operation did not survive a change of owners and came to the market, but its isolated location made this a poor prospect against planning policy.

We saw its mature trees over 17 acres made a major contribution to the Somerset landscape, but lacked any statutory protection. So we showed that a strong planning case could be made by subdividing the grounds into three smaller estates and converting the remnant buildings. This represented the optimum management model to assure the long-term future of the arboretum. In our application, the woodland restoration and future management plan were fully drafted and backed up by specialist reports. Although contrary to policy, the common sense of the proposal was accepted by planning committee and the proposed sub-division went ahead. Members accepted that without a strong case for the trees to be seen as an asset of smaller country house estates, the risks of their loss over time were high.