A GOVERNMENT department will review a planning row relating to an historic church site - which dates back almost 500 years - after Barnsley Council refused permission to build a cottage in its grounds.

Eagles Rise Retreat - formerly All Hallows, which was deconsecrated - is in the hamlet of High Hoyland and offers accommodation for small groups.

Historically the proposed development site to the north of the church included two homes, one of which provided on-site accommodation for those responsible for maintaining the church and grounds, up until its closure.

There is no longer permanent accommodation on-site and the cottages were demolished around the 1960s, but applicant Christina Ffrench-Hodges sought approval to build one three-bedroom cottage.

However, it was rejected by the council’s planning board due to its location in the green belt and its ‘out of keeping’ appearance next to the church.

It will now go before the Planning Inspectorate - a government-run department which has the power to overturn a council’s decision.

A planning statement, submitted on behalf of Ms Ffrench-Hodges, said: “The site is currently home to a static caravan - a short-term arrangement required for a family member who developed mobility issues - but the long-term aim is to provide permanent accessible living accommodation.

“We are passionate about the land and buildings and want to safeguard the future of the listed church and monuments.

“By re-constructing a sensitively-designed cottage on the site of the former cottages, the church buildings and grounds can be maintained whilst the church operates as a retreat, creating a sustainable long-term use for the previously vacant church and safeguarding the future of this historic site.

“This site contains a former Church of England church building, ‘the Church of All Hallows’, which was Grade II-listed by Historic England in March 1968.

“A graveyard to the south also includes a number of Grade II-listed raised gravestone and tomb slabs.

“The proposals have been sensitively designed to respect the church and its setting, thus preserving and enhancing the heritage value of the site.”

The Chronicle understands interested people’s views will be submitted by January 17, before a hearing takes place where a decision will be reached.

“By reintroducing accommodation that was historically and intrinsically part of the site, the proposals pay homage to the past whilst enabling future use of the site, establishing a more practical arrangement for the long-term maintenance of the buildings and grounds,” the report added.

“The historical cottages have not been present on site for several years, however the fact remains that for a significant time in the site’s history, it was home to two cottages and construction of a new cottage of similar footprint on a well-screened site does not have a significant impact on the openness of the green belt.”