OXFORD's iconic Shark House has disappeared overnight. 

The 25ft fibreglass sculpture which was sticking out of the Headington roof has been removed by the owner in what he has described as a 'protest' to the city council's 'hypocritical' decision to make it a protected landmark. 

Magnus Hanson-Heine, 34, strongly objected to his house in New High Street, Headington, being added to the Oxford Heritage Asset Register.

The Oxford City Council register recognises places of important local cultural, social or historic value. But Dr Hanson-Heine is furious at the authority for trading off the fame of the installation created by his late father, the journalist and radio presenter Bill Heine, following the US bombing of Libya.

The anti-war art piece was also designed as a protest against council bureaucracy and planning controls and Mr Heine spent many years battling a hostile city council to keep it.

Dr Hanson-Heine said: "With the recent listing decision, it became clear that people had missed a large part of the message of the Shark House.

"I just didn't see the point of it anymore."

He added: "I might consider putting it back up later this month. I will have to see how I feel."

Oxford Mail:

Dr Hanson-Heine, a quantum chemist, inherited the house from his dad in 2016. Bill Heine installed the statue in secret without planning permission in 1986 and sparked a six-year planning row with Oxford City Council.

He was only able to keep it when then-environment minister Michael Heseltine backed an appeal in 1992.

The sculpture was an anti-war, anti-nuclear protest but also a protest against planning restrictions and censorship, said Dr Hanson-Heine.

He said: “My father always resisted giving any conclusive answer to the question what was the meaning of it as it was designed to make people think for themselves, and decide for themselves what is art.

“But it was anti the bombing of Tripoli by the Americans, anti-nuclear proliferation, anti-censorship in the form of planning laws specifically."

Inclusion of a building or place on the Oxford Heritage Asset Register “helps to influence planning decisions in a way that conserves and enhances local character”.

Dr Hanson-Heine said: “Using the planning apparatus to preserve a historical symbol of planning law defiance is absurd on the face of it."

Oxford Mail:

Oxford City Council’s planning committee were told that the Shark House's owner did not support the application but included it with 16 other additions to the register.

Afterwards Dr Hanson-Heine said: "I think it's appalling. Ultimately it's my house. And it's logically inconsistent to protect something using planning law that is a protest against planning law.

"The council don't understand art, these decisions should not be left to them. If councillors don't know the Headington Shark House without it being on the register then that's not coming from a place of intelligence or information."

Now he has taken the decision to remove the shark and for the time being at least put it into safe storage.

"I hope this doesn't hurt the AirBnB," said Dr Hanson-Heine, whose house is a star attraction on the holiday accommodation website.

He added: "If anyone would like to know more about why the shark used to be in the roof of my house, they are welcome to visit www.headingtonshark.com "


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