A bid by Cornwall Council to remove a 40-year-old home from a farm in North Cornwall because it is not classed as a settlement has been opposed by the local council and residents, who claim it is “vitally important” it stays, particularly while the Duchy is in the midst of a housing crisis.

An application by farmer Lilian Budge for the renewal of permission for the siting of a mobile home at Lane End in the hamlet of Kingbeare, near Launceston, was recommended for refusal by Cornwall Council’s planning department.

A condition in the original planning approval in 1994 stated that permission would end when its occupant Dorren Soady was no longer living in the mobile home, which would then have to be removed. Mrs Soady has since died and the home remains empty. Mrs Budge is paying double council tax on the empty property and wants to replace it with a more modern and environmentally friendly mobile home.

The council said that would result in the creation of a new dwelling in an “unsustainable location” in an area that is not recognised as a settlement and is in open countryside. A planning officer stated that if the committee recognised Kingbeare as a settlement by allowing the application it would be a “marker in the sand for future applications that come in”.

North Hill Parish Council supported the application.

Local member and farmer Cllr Adrian Parsons, who opposed the officer’s recommendation to refuse, said further income streams for struggling farmers should be allowed where possible “to allow our businesses to survive”.

He added: “Do not underestimate how vital every unit of housing stock is and for us to be possibly losing one against local support isn’t considered to be a very smart move.”

Cllr Barry Jordan responded: “This is very difficult. The unit is not being used and is falling down, and they want to put a brand new mobile home in there. To me, that is wrong.” Cllr John Fitter said he was also “worried” about allowing it.

Disagreeing, Cllr Adam Paynter added: “We’ve had the conversation numerous times about ‘what is a settlement’. I think because of the dispersed nature of the way Cornwall is, many of our settlements, hamlets and villages don’t fit neatly into a government-sized box because where you have farmsteads you don’t tend to have nicely grouped houses. So I don’t think this would set a precedent if we did support it because each application is taken on its own merits.”

Cllr Dominic Fairman said he was struggling to see the planning harm so was also against the recommendation to refuse. The application was approved on the grounds there would be no planning harm on previously developed land.