Historic house stays standing

Oxford Mail: Sir Bertram Clough Williams-Ellis Sir Bertram Clough Williams-Ellis

THE REJECTION of plans to bulldoze an Edwardian house designed by a famed architect has been roundly welcomed.

Vale of White Horse District Council refused Bewley Homes permission to knock down Larkbeare, at 85 Cumnor Hill, to make way for a 21-home housing estate.

The 1907 house was designed by Sir Bertram Clough Williams-Ellis, famed for creating the Italianate village of Portmeirion, North Wales, which famously served as The Village in cult 1960s television show The Prisoner.

He designed Larkbeare for Anne Wynne Thackeray, who helped found Cumnor Rise Hospital which was demolished in the 1990s.

Neighbours of the historic home rallied to oppose its demolition citing the proposal would lead to the loss of 200 trees and create a flooding risk.

The council termed it a “poor quality and visually harmful development” that was not “sympathetic” to the area.

It said the development would demolish a significant heritage asset despite English Heritage refusing a resident’s bid to have it listed as it had “few distinctive features”.

And it said the eight proposed affordable homes would not be evenly spread across the site and did not vary enough in size.

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Bewley, which also argued that Larkbeare was only a “mediocre” structure, had proposed four, one-bedroom and two, two- and three-bedroom homes compared to 11 four- and five-bedroom private houses.

But the plan failed to provide adequate open space for children and would impact on neighbours and infrastructure, the council said.

Cumnor Parish Council had been deeply concerned about the proposals. Its chairman Brian Stops said: “We are pleased because we thought that might be the first of a number of plots that might have been considered for that kind of treatment or proposal.”

Oxford Preservation Trust director Debbie Dance said: “We are pleased this will be looked at again. It is an important local asset and the amount of housing that was going to go on there is not something we would want to see in Cumnor Hill.”

Bewley Homes – which has the right of appeal to the independent Planning Inspectorate – was not available for comment.

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