PLANNING officials have branded the proposed demolition of a derelict house in Headington one of the “worst” schemes they have come across.

Yesterday saw the hearing into Martin Young ’s appeal against Oxford City Council ’s decision to refuse him planning permission to knock down 29 Old High Street.

City council planning officer Martin Armstrong said: “This is the second worst scheme I have ever seen in my career.

“This application stands no chance of success. It is extremely rare for the council to issue a refusal notice with so many reasons which are so strong.

“It flies in the face of national planning policy with no supporting evidence.”

Mr Armstrong added that the city council would be requesting government planning inspector Tim Wood to order Mr Young to pay its costs for the appeal.

As well as knocking down the building, Mr Young wants to replace it with five three-storey houses.

But this was thrown out by the city council in December, with officers listing nine reasons for it not going ahead, ranging from the lack of a bat survey to the “excessive height and awkward mass” of the proposed buildings.

Mr Armstrong added that the worst scheme he had come across was a plan in 2004 to develop land to the rear of Headley Way.

Neighbours have also objected to the proposals on the grounds that the new homes would be out of character with the rest of Old Headington.

While he admitted the plans could have been better thought out, Mr Young said they were drawn up while he was going through a court case to overthrow the city council’s improvement order.

The Headington Hill resident said: “The courts both said (the house) was an eye- sore and damaging to the area.

“I think the conservation area has been drawn too widely and this (29 Old High Street) is so much on the fringes of it that it is damaged by factors outside it.”

He added that the council had a “vindictive attitude” towards him by asking for him to pay for costs.

The building, which is in the Old Headington conservation area, has been empty for about five years after Mr Young moved out to care for his elderly mother.

Since he bought the 19th century house in 1978, when he intended to turn it into a family home, the building has steadily fallen into a state of disrepair.

The city council had ordered him to improve the state of the house, but no work was carried out before the deadline of Monday, March 12.

  • April 2007 – Mr Young blames Oxford Brookes students after his car is found with a ‘To let’ sign and breeze blocks thrown through the windows
  • May 2007 – Oxford City Council illegally crushes Mr Young’s car and is ordered to pay him more than £3,500
  • October 2008 – Police officers storm Mr Young’s house in Headington Hill to seize his collection of more than 400 guns.
  • 2010-2012 – Mr Young takes the city council to court over its approval of Oxford Brookes University’s new £132m campus
  • September 2010 – He submits plans to turn a patch of land in Littlemore into a rubbish tip which is thrown out and resubmitted in July 2012.
  • September 2011 – Submits plans to knock down 29 Old High Street which is then thrown out and taken to appeal
  • February 2012 – It emerges Mr Young is bankrolling a legal claim by two tenants to take ownership of a £1m North Oxford house for free
  • April 2012 – Having been told he has to improve the condition of 29 Old High Street, he repairs a stone wall using a series of concrete breeze blocks
  • June-July 2012 – After an appeal at Oxford Crown Court Mr Young is told he cannot have his gun licence back
  • July 2012 – He announces his intention to enter the race to become the Thames Valley’s first elected police commissioner