Wraxall Yard involves the sensitive renovation of a series of derelict farm buildings in West Dorset into accessible holiday accommodation, a community space and a small educational farm. Dating from the mid 19th Century, the existing stone and brick barns are arranged around a fold-yard, and are located at the edge of the hamlet of Lower Wraxall, adjacent to the Grade I* listed Church of St. Mary’s.
Although well-suited to families with a disabled member, the five self-catered cottages are designed to have universal appeal and it is envisaged they will be used by a range of guests. The community space will be available both to those staying at the site, and for gatherings held by local people such as Parish Council Meetings. The farm will have a small number of animals and some food production areas, offering guests an opportunity to interact with the natural world and rural processes. Careful thought has gone into developing an appropriate design strategy for the scheme, retaining as much of the fabric and character of the existing buildings as possible, whilst also ensuring that they are safe and comfortable to inhabit, with low energy consumption.
The project is part of a larger initiative being led by the clients to improve the ecology and biodiversity of the family’s farmland in the surrounding area, which is currently used as grazing pasture. The whole farm is already organic or in organic conversion with the Soil Association, and it is all in Environmental Stewardship or Natural England Mid & Higher Tier Stewardship schemes. There is a planned programme of woodland and hedgerow planting which has the potential for producing biomass fuel for this development. This, and a focus on enhancing the potential for species-rich pasture and wetland areas, will lead to lower-density livestock grazing and a consequent lowering of the environmental impact of the farm’s activities.
It is envisaged that guests staying at Wraxall Yard will engage with the land around the application site, and the processes involved with transforming it. There is an intention, as part of a second phase, to create an accessible boardwalk and bird hide adjacent to the pond to the north of the buildings, so that all guests have the opportunity to explore and interact with the local environment.
Building work commenced in June 2020, and is due to complete in September 2021.