IT’S the curious incident of the pool in the basement.
Oxford Preservation Trust, Oxford Civic Society and well-known author Mark Haddon have all weighed into a row over plans to create a large basement with a swimming pool under a house in North Oxford.
Craig Burkinshaw has applied to Oxford City Council for planning permission to build a side extension onto the house on the corner of Farndon Road and Warnborough Road and dig out a basement underneath it which would be used for a swimming pool, gym, sauna room and two guest bedroom suites.
Mr Haddon, who wrote popular novel The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time, and lives next door to Mr Burkinshaw, has written to the city council objecting to the plans.
In his letter he said: “We have no aesthetic objections to the plans, but the works would cause us a great deal of disturbance and inconvenience over a long period.
“More importantly the project would involve excavation onto our property, the temporary loss of walls, flowerbeds and our shed/bike store, and the permanent loss of two mature trees.”
His wife has also objected on the basis that the building work would take a long time and cause a “great deal of noise and disturbance”.
In his application Mr Burkinshaw says he has owned the property in Farndon Road for “a number of years” but bought the adjoining house in Warnborough Road last year.
He has since been given planning permission by the city council to turn them into one home.
Debbie Dance, the director of Oxford Preservation Trust, says the current plans go too far.
She said: “The proposal is to make two houses into one house and to add a large extension on the side, together with a large underground basement, so that the overall size of the house is very substantially larger than any one house in the area.
“What is presented is on a scale not previously envisaged in the North Oxford conservation area around Farndon and Warnborough Roads, and suggests a misunderstanding of what constitutes the character of the neighbourhood, in its disregard for the size and settings of the other houses in the area.”
Peter Thompson, chairman of Oxford Civic Society, said giving planning permission to this scheme would set a precedent for similar proposals.
He said: “These operations, together with the very substantial excavation and materials disposal activities, will generate a large number of traffic movements, of heavy goods vehicles, causing considerable and prolonged severe nuisance to neighbours, potential damage to the residential streets and contributing to congestion on Woodstock Road and air pollution in the neighbourhood.”
Last year Kensington and Chelsea Borough Council introduced a ban on so-called “iceberg homes” with mega-basements after a surge in applications from wealthy owners seeking to bypass planning restrictions by extending homes downwards.
In his application Mr Burkinshaw, who was unavailable for comment, said “very little” of the basement will be visible from ground level.
No date has yet been set for the plan to come before city councillors.