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Portmeirion designer house is saved
A CELEBRATED house has been saved, with a scheme for 21 new homes rejected by a planning inspector.
But an alternative scheme has already been submitted with plans for 15 properties on the site which residents say is an “historical asset”. Bewley Homes had appealed the Vale of White Horse District Council’s decision to refuse permission for a housing development at 85 Cumnor Hill.
Residents protested that the scheme would have resulted in scores of trees being cut down in the extensive grounds, with a loss of a 1907 house designed by architect Sir Bertram Clough Williams-Ellis, famed for the Italianate village of Portmeirion in north Wales.
Planning inspector David Nicholson said the scheme’s “poor design and layout” would damage the character of the area. He also expressed unhappiness about the lack of pedestrian routes through the large site, the uncharacteristically large houses and the inefficient use of land.
The village in Wales designed by Williams-Ellis had famously served as “The Village” in the cult 1960s TV series The Prisoner.
English Heritage had declined to list Larkbeare, as the Cumnor house is called, but acknowledged that it was of local interest.
The house, music room and gardens are thought to have hosted informal concerts by famous musicians down the years, including the great British pianist Myra Hess.
But an alternative scheme has already been submitted to Vale of White Horse District Council, which would retain the house and reduce the number of houses proposed on the site to 15.
Bewley Homes managing director Andrew Brooks said: “We are disappointed with the appeal decision after what has been a protracted planning application.
“We have submitted a new application that retains the existing building. The inspector highlights that it is a potential site for redevelopment.”
Jane Baldwin, assistant director of Oxford Preservation Trust, which backed the campaign to save the house, said: “There was a huge amount of concern from the public about losing a building of such local significance.
“Williams-Ellis had strong Oxfordshire connections. We believe the house could be the earliest surviving example of his work.”
Brian Stops, chairman of Cumnor Parish Council, said if the scheme had gone ahead other nearby plots would have been considered for similar proposals.
He added: “Local people put a huge amount of effort into fighting this. It would have meant the loss of many trees. We fear the new plans are not good at all. We are unhappy with the layout and some of the proposed houses are larger, with surrounding properties overlooked.”
A Cumnor Hill resident, who asked to remain anonymous, said the new schemewould create significant traffic problems.
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