Eco-house described as 'glass carbunkle'

A BED and breakfast owner has defended his proposal to build a futuristic “eco-house” in a village famed for its medieval architecture.

A BED and breakfast owner has defended his proposal to build a futuristic “eco-house” in a village famed for its medieval architecture.

Tim Pitt, who owns the 13th century Grade 1 listed Priory B&B on Water Street in Lavenham, submitted the detailed 80-page application to Babergh District Council officials in June seeking consent to build residential accommodation and a home office in his garden.

The plans, designed by architects Wincer-Kievenaar of Hadleigh, show dramatic drawings of the proposed development, with a double layer of glass panels running along its frontage and a living roof. Other design innovations include a ground source heat pump, solar panels and systems for recycling all waste and water onsite.

“This plan has been two and a half years in the making and is using some of the latest green lifestyle building techniques,” said Mr Pitt, who has won several awards for the Priory, including the AA's Guest Accommodation of the Year award.

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“It has been built into the ground to maximise heat efficiency and will have no impact on the character of Lavenham. I have taken advice from the conservation officer from Suffolk County Council and followed English Heritage guidelines.”

But the plans, which were due to be discussed at a parish council meeting this week, have met with a mixed reaction in the village, which is best known for its National Trust Guildhall and medieval marketplace.

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Neighbour Jane Ranzetta, who runs a self-catering accommodation business from her house on Water Street said the proposed building resembled a “glass carbuncle.”

She added: “The building is not in keeping with the Grade 1 buildings around it. If it is allowed to go ahead it will spoil an ancient view and set a dangerous precedent.”

But at Transition Lavenham, a group working to promote sustainable living in the village, chairman Carroll Reeve, defended the proposed building as being “years ahead of its time.”

He said: “We mustn't see Lavenham as a museum piece that remains preserved in aspic. It is better to build sensitive 21st constructions that are energy efficient than buildings that are pastiches of the past.”

The outcome of the parish council meeting will lead to recommendations to Babergh planning officers, who have the final say on whether the building can go ahead.

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