AN Oxfordshire couple have won the right to build a grand new home despite fierce objections from an Oxford college which formerly owned the land.

Entrepreneurs Michael and Erla O'Byrne bought Grade-II listed Tubney Manor Farm, Appleton, near Abingdon, from Magdalen College in 2002 for £600,000.

It is now worth almost double that and the couple, both aged in their 50s, want to sell the farmhouse and convert two barns into a new home for themselves.

The O'Byrnes last year obtained planning permission for the project, but Magdalen College dug in its heels and objected.

The college pointed to a clause in the farm's title deeds which dictates that only a single private house can be built on the land.

Now, after a "bitterly fought" tribunal case, the O'Byrnes have triumphed over the college and had the "one dwelling" restriction lifted.

However, they must pay the college £60,000 compensation before they can turn their grand design into a reality.

The college's lawyers pointed out that 45 per cent of its income, about £6.3 million a year, comes from its landholdings across Oxfordshire and elsewhere.

Lifting the restriction would set a dangerous precedent and potentially affect the college's rights to develop neighbouring sites.

But, handing victory to the O'Byrnes at the Upper Tribunal, Judge John Behrens rejected claims that allowing the barn conversion would be "the thin end of the wedge".

The restriction was of no "substantial value or advantage" to the college and the couple's project would have only "a marginal effect" on its future development plans.

Judge Behrens granted a modification of the restriction which will allow the barn conversion to proceed.

However, the decision will only take effect if the O'Byrnes pay £60,000 compensation to the college within three months.

The couple will also have to contribute towards the cost of maintaining and repairing an access road, the judge ruled.

Ordering the compensation, he said the O'Byrnes would have had to pay 10 per cent more for the farm had it been free from the restriction in 2002.

The proposals, first submitted to Vale of White Horse District Council in March 2016, have been designed to make a living area that is 'suitable for modern family life', while 'respecting the nature and character of the existing building and the buildings surrounding it', according to the application.

The architects also said the plans had been designed to minimise the impact on the main farmhouse which is a Grade-II listed structure.

Vale of White Horse District Council granted planning permission for the development in May 2017 with council officers stating the heritage impact and design were acceptable while the plans met with the council's green belt policy.