THE owner of a derelict house in Old Headington is facing a legal bill after losing his latest battle with Oxford City Council .

Developer Martin Young , who owns 29 Old High Street, has had his appeal against a decision to refuse him planning permission to demolish the house and replace it with five three-storey houses, dismissed.

The house, which is in the Old Headington Conservation Area, had fallen into a state of disrepair and the city council ordered him to improve it in June 2011.

But just weeks later Mr Young submitted a planning application to knock the building down and replace it with the five houses. The application was branded by a planning officer as the ‘second worst planning application he had ever seen’ and was thrown out by the city council last December.

The developer appealed against the refusal for the application, and against the refusal for conservation area consent, and a hearing was held in front of a planning inspector in August.

Mr Young, who has not lived in the house for five years, had his appeal thrown out by the Planning Inspectorate yesterday.

Inspector Tim Wood also ruled that Mr Young would have to meet an as-yet undertermined amount of the costs of the appeal due to “unreasonable behaviour resulting in unnecessary expense”.

The property developer, who said he has spent at least £7,000 on his own legal fees during the process, said he would now try to restore the house to its former beauty. He is awaiting the outcome of a further planning application, this time for partial demolition of the ‘scruffy’ parts of the building and an extension to the house.

Mr Young, said: “I am not surprised it has been thrown out. The application to demolish and redevelop was a desperate measure.

“There was a technical argument. They said they deemed it to be an eyesore, but they would not let me demolish it, so it was not that much of an eyesore.”

Mr Young , who said he is a “conservationist at heart”, said he was now more interested in doing “what the council wants”.

“The residents like the latest planning applications, I like it, it’s in my bones and it is the right thing to do. But if the sums go against you, it is pointless.

“I just hope the city council won’t be so anti-Martin Young they won’t grant me permission. I can’t see at the moment any serious reason why they can’t.”

Stella Welford, who lives next to the house and is a member of Friends of Old Headington, said: “I’m glad the appeal has been thrown out.

“It’s a lovely house and as I’m sure the inspector would understand it is a significant building.

“I think someone should take some action to make sure it is restored.”

The council previously issued an improvement order for 29 Old High Street, the deadline for which has expired, but no further action has been taken.

The council added: “We will need to wait for the outcome of this case, before any action to secure compliance with the improvement notice.”


  • June 2011: 29 Old High Street, pictured, is put on Save’s annual Buildings at Risk register
  • September 2011: Martin Young files an application to knock the house down
  • December 2011: Mr Young’s application is thrown out
  • March 2012: The improvement deadline passes and no work has been carried out. Mr Young appeals against the decision
  • May 2012: The council says it will not be taking action over the improvement order until the appeal has been sorted out
  • July 2012: Mr Young submits a new application to restore the house
  • September 2012: the appeal is thrown out by the Planning Inspectorate.