Calderdale's Fairbank rugby farming family given go-ahead for agricultural workers' home

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A well-known Calderdale rugby-playing family, who have farmed in Greetland for several generations, have been given permission to create a new dwelling at the side of a barn for workers to help care for animals.

Farming to high standards helped convince councillors to approve proposals for an agricultural workers’ home.

Richard Fairbank, a member of the renowned Fairbank rugby dynasty, told Calderdale planning councillors he farmed at Greetland to “Red Tractor” standards for his beef herd, the highest possible in England.

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Achieving the overall standard involved meeting 132 different standards including presence at an animal’s birth, being there to clear the airways of new born and feeding.

Former professional rugby league player Karl Fairbank, on the family farm at Bank Top Farm, Greetland. His family have farmed in the area for nearly 60 years.Former professional rugby league player Karl Fairbank, on the family farm at Bank Top Farm, Greetland. His family have farmed in the area for nearly 60 years.
Former professional rugby league player Karl Fairbank, on the family farm at Bank Top Farm, Greetland. His family have farmed in the area for nearly 60 years.

Ex-Halifax RLFC player Mr Fairbank, who farms in partnership with his mother and brother Karl - a former Great Britain RL player - from Bank Top Farm, Greetland, said three generations of his family had farmed the area , himself for almost 40 years.

“Farm animals need on-site attendance 24 hours, daily, particularly at calving time,” he said.

To reach the Red Tractor standard some situations had to be dealt with in strict time limits, he told councillors.

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Mr Fairbank’s part-retrospective plans for an agricultural workers’ dwelling on the site of a barn at Copperas Row, Rochdale Road, Greetland, were approved by Calderdale Council’s Planning Committee, subject to conditions.

Coun Paul BellengerCoun Paul Bellenger
Coun Paul Bellenger

Greetland and Stainland ward councillors Christine Prashad (Lib Dem) and Sue Holdsworth (Lib Dem) sent statements supporting the applicant.

Councillors heard approval had previously been given for a home on the site incorporating internally a wall from the old barn, but before work could begin this had collapsed.

But this meant the structure has to be treated as a new building in the green belt under national planning rules – and planning officers said they did not believe necessary very special circumstances had been demonstrated as to why the building should be permitted.

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However, although council animal welfare staff had briefed planners it was not necessary to have a building on site – members heard Mr Fairbank had been living in a caravan to be close to the herd – councillors thought the need outweighed any harm to the green belt.

Coun Colin HutchinsonCoun Colin Hutchinson
Coun Colin Hutchinson

Coun Paul Bellenger (Lib Dem, Greetland and Stainland) said it was clear it was needed.

Coun Stephanie Clarke (Lab, Illingworth and Mixenden) said the new building was on the same size footprint as the former barn.

Coun Robert Thornber (Con, Ryburn) said information showed special circumstances and Coun Colin Hutchinson (Lab, Skircoat) said there were times when, to meet the standards, close access was required.