The Morel Farm Project
FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
Could Morel Farm be used as a smallholding?
Morel Farm is a substantial Grade 2 listed farm house with a small range of outbuildings, many of which are no longer suitable for modern farming practice, including the stables and pig sties. As a result, new infrastructure and investment would be required depending on the type of livestock that was housed on site or the production required to produce high-end, niche products. Equally, the landholdings are relatively small, i.e. 20 vergées, which would only support a relatively small amount of livestock, especially if organic standards were being maintained, including regular rotation. The house itself also requires investment to bring it up to modern standards.
It is inevitable that a smallholding operation would require rental subsidy, especially given the size of the farmhouse, unless it was able to generate sufficient sources of income from other means. This might include diversification such as additional holiday accommodation, delivering a visitor attraction such as a petting farm or scaling up production with opportunities for direct sales.
The issue is whether it is the Trust’s role as a conservation charity to subsidise a smallholder who would not deliver any wider landscape/conservation benefits outside of the farm’s immediate landholdings or whether this is the remit of such organisations as the Jersey Farmers’ Union, the RJA & HS or the Government of Jersey’s Environment Department.
Why has the Trust not refurbished the property before now?
The Trust substantially invested in Morel Farm in the late 1960s, with new roofs, structural stabilisation and a new tractor shed. Since then, it has been rented to a number of tenants at low rents, reflecting particularly in recent times, the lack of heating, mains drains and water. The farm now requires considerable refurbishment including new services, kitchen, bathrooms, damp proofing and internal finishes. Finding the necessary funds for these works has been challenging especially as the Trust has invested funds of over £2.6m saving both 16 New Street and the Foot Buildings from demolition.
Did Mr Arthur Morel or Miss Mary Le Marquand Morel place any restrictions on Morel Farm?
Neither Mr Arthur Morel, who gifted the farm to the Trust, nor his daughter who gifted the land to the Trust, placed any restrictions or conditions on their respective gifts.
The Secretary spoke to Miss Morel on a regular basis whilst she was alive and at no time did she indicate that she wished Morel Farm to be used in a particular way. However, when Miss Morel bequeathed her home, Denehurst, to the Methodist Home for the Aged, she made specific requests to ensure her objectives were met. She recognised that Morel Farm required income for its future maintenance and requested that, if the Methodist Home for the Aged declined Denehurst, the property should be passed to the Trust upon condition that any rental income from Denehurst be used to maintain Morel Farm.
Who currently rents the land?
The southern field is let to organic dairy farmer Sadie Renard and the northern field is let to Jersey Hemp. Both are farmed organically.
Has a planning application been submitted for glamping?
The Trust has NOT submitted a planning application for glamping. Following discussion with some of the immediate neighbours, it was agreed that the Trust would consider alternative options, hence why applications for self-catering use have been made for the Farmhouse and Chapel.
To clarify, the glamping proposal would entail the erection of 6 canvas safari tents with a self-contained shower/toilet and a small kitchenette, similar to the existing facilities at Durrell. The tents are totally reversible with no concrete foundations or permanent infrastructure. All services are removable.
The Trust has agreed not to proceed with the glamping plan without full consultation with interested parties.
Will self-catering create more traffic?
It is envisaged that there will be no more than 4 cars on site: 2 for the main house, 1 for the bakehouse and 1 for the chapel. The Trust does not consider this to be an exceptional number of cars for the farm and believes traffic numbers would potentially be greater if the site was used for agricultural purposes or long term rental.
Why are people objecting to the Trust’s proposals?
People are concerned that the Trust’s plans will over-commercialise Morel Farm and will not protect the rural idyll they have come to love over the years.
The Trust is of the view that self-catering is a very low impact usage which will generate sufficient funds to secure the future of the buildings at the farm, whilst also benefitting the Island’s visitor economy. It also provides a degree of public access. Similar models are widely used by Jersey Heritage (at such sites as Hamptonne, Elizabeth Castle and the Forts and Towers) and is increasingly adopted by the National Trust for England, Wales and Northern Ireland, English Heritage, the Landmark Trust and an ever growing number of stately homes across the UK.
How does the National Trust raise funds?
The Trust is self-funding with monies coming from memberships (just over 4,000), property and lands rental income, bequests, grants, events and donations. As a result, it was a huge achievement that the Fiscal Stimulus grant application was successful. In this respect, it is the Trust’s view that the higher rental income derived from holiday accommodation can be best utilised towards supporting the Trust’s ongoing conservation work throughout the Island as well as actively contributing towards the future maintenance and repair of the portfolio of historic buildings, including Morel Farm.