Society backs country house plan

By Sarah ChambersA CONSERVATION group has described a controversial proposal for a new home in the countryside as "a rare opportunity to add to the list of distinctive country houses in the county".

By Sarah Chambers

A CONSERVATION group has described a controversial proposal for a new home in the countryside as "a rare opportunity to add to the list of distinctive country houses in the county".

Suffolk Coastal District Council planning officers have recommended Sara Lowe's plans to create a luxury modern home in Westleton, to be known as Wilderness House, should be refused.

But Suffolk Preservation Society, which has visited the site, has not raised an objection to the application.


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Its director, Richard Ward, said in a letter: "This is a rare opportunity to add to the list of distinctive country houses in the county with a proposal of character designed specifically for the site. The society is of the opinion that the opportunity should be taken."

The plan will go before Suffolk Coastal District Council's development control sub-committee, which has carried out a site visit, on October 15.

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Positive comments on the plan have been received from Suffolk Coastal MP John Gummer, the Commission for Architecture and the Built Environment and architect Sir Michael Hopkins.

But the Woodland Trust said the plan should be rejected, arguing it would "damage the overall integrity that this woodland habitat has developed".

If the proposal is given the go-ahead, the house could become one of the last built under what is known as "Gummer's law", a piece of legislation introduced by the Suffolk Coastal MP and former Environment Secretary called Policy Guidance Note 7.

It allows for an isolated house to be built in the countryside "if it is clearly of the highest quality" and is "truly outstanding in terms of architecture and landscape design".

But the latest Draft Planning Statement (PPS) 7 from the Office of the Deputy Prime Minister has removed the policy exception on building in the countryside.

Suffolk Preservation Society argued the site, next to woodland, was "eminently suitable for the proposal".

It said: "The potential benefits to the Wilderness through the careful, sympathetic and appropriate management should not be underestimated. Without such management, the society questions what will happen to this important woodland area in the future.

"The building design has evolved from a careful analysis of the site. It is not a pastiche, but accepts the challenge of the new century and site characteristics."

But council planning officers said the proposed development was not outstanding enough to meet the criteria of the policy exception and would result in the loss of woodland and associated habitat.

sarah.chambers@eadt.co.uk

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