Neighbours are up in arms after discovering plans for a development on green belt land will be considered again – despite having already been rejected twice.

Sweet Tree Fields Farm on Marsh Lane, Mill Hill, has been running as a ‘care farm’ that allows people with learning disabilities and mental health issues to look after animals such as sheep, donkeys and goats since 2013.

But while owner Barry Sweetbaum had a licence to use the land for agriculture, he added buildings and tracks to the site and opened the care farm without planning permission.

Mr Sweetbaum’s bid to continue running the care farm was refused twice by Hendon area planning committee – first in June 2018 and again on May 30 this year.

But neighbours opposed to the development were shocked to find an application for retrospective planning permission will be considered for a third time this month.

Rahul Mulchandani, who lives on Marsh Lane, said residents battling the proposals had already spent thousands of pounds on legal advice.

He said: “It is very frustrating. I do not understand why residents have to go through the procedural circus of another planning meeting for the same retrospective plans less than nine months after the previous refusal.”

Some opponents of the plan believe the farm could be used as a gateway to housing development at the site, with the dirt tracks being turned into roads to provide access for the homes.

Mr Sweetbaum denies the claims and says the tracks are there to allow tractors to move around the farm without damaging the ground.

Barnet Council’s monitoring officer ruled the committee’s decision to refuse planning permission on May 30 was “legally flawed” because it was “made without proper recourse to the appropriate material considerations”.

When asked to provide more details, the council responded that the legal advice it received was confidential and it was unable to comment further.

Mr Mulchandani said the council’s actions went against government guidelines stating that people had only one opportunity to obtain planning permission for an unauthorised development.

He also questioned why it had not taken enforcement action against Mr Sweetbaum and said neighbours were considering taking legal action against the council.

A spokesperson for the applicant said the plans had “widespread public support” and pointed out that two petitions to save the farm had been signed by more than 400 people, while the current application had received 176 letters of support.

The spokesperson added: “Our farm is valued not only by participants and their families, but also by the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, the Royal Mencap Society and Social Farms and Gardens, who have all praised our approach.

“In addition to public support, we are pleased that council officers have recommended our application for approval, subject to several conditions.

“We hope that committee members will be minded to support their officers’ recommendation, taking into account the immense social benefits and significant public support for the application.”

A council spokesperson said: “The legal advice we have received on this matter is confidential, and as such we are unable to comment further at this stage.

“However, the application is scheduled to be considered in full by our planning committee in a forthcoming meeting at Hendon Town Hall.

“Details of such will be made public in advance and all residents are welcome to attend.”

The next meeting of the planning committee will take place at 7pm on Wednesday, July 24.