21st century mansion to get go ahead
PLANS to build a 21st century stately home in rural Essex look set to go ahead after council officers approved the design. The proposals, which would transform a farm in Writtle, near Chelmsford, into a mansion with more than five bedrooms, will go before Chelmsford borough councillors on Tuesday.
PLANS to build a 21st century stately home in rural Essex look set to go ahead after council officers approved the design.
The proposals, which would transform a farm in Writtle, near Chelmsford, into a mansion with more than five bedrooms, will go before Chelmsford borough councillors on Tuesday.
Councillors are unlikely to reject the planning application for Roper's Farm, Writtle, after it received the backing of the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA) and the Commission for Architecture and the Built Environment (CABE).
Writtle Parish Council and the Writtle Society, which opposed the application because of the threat posed to affordable local housing and the loss of agricultural land, are expected to object to the decision.
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In a letter to Chelmsford Borough Council during the consultation period, the Writtle Society outlined its hostility to the proposed development.
It said: "The design appears to be devoid of architectural innovation.
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"It incorporates many of the worst elements of modern building design which, until changes in recent years, have blighted Chelmsford and its environs."
But after consultation with CABE, council officers decided that the design, created by James Gorst Architects, did comply with Government criteria for country houses.
CABE's programme officer, Dan Thompson, said in his letter to council officers: "We are happy to support this proposal. This is clearly a well-considered and coherent building by a highly competent architect, with a landscape design to match."
Residents claimed that new countryside developments should aim to provide cheap housing for local people, rather than stately homes with quarters for staff and grooms.
But the report from the planning committee announced that if approved, applicants P A Scott Associates would make an undisclosed contribution towards affordable housing in Writtle.
David Woodyard, clerk for Writtle Parish Council, said: "We were not overly keen because in our opinion it wasn't architecturally outstanding and didn't enhance the surrounding area which is what was meant to do.
"To us it looked like an office block. Maybe that's what modern people like but if that represents the modern age I don't think much of it.
"There's only so much we can do. At the end of the day it's up to the experts. We just have to accept that."
The proposals could still be called in by the Office of the Deputy Prime Minister.
Councillors will discuss the application at their planning committee meeting on Tuesday.