Demolition of wealthy Edwardian's extravagant whim denied

The demolition of a winter garden at a grade II listed manor house in Wiltshire was rejected because it would harm the special interest of the heritage asset.

200-001-229 (Image Credit: Wiltshire Council)
200-001-229 (Image Credit: Wiltshire Council)

The statutory list described the building as a conservatory, dated late 19th century, the inspector noted. However, it emerged from a historic assessment provided by the appellants that the building was constructed in 1916. Further, it was never intended to be a horticultural conservatory but was built to its unusually large size for the purpose of playing indoor cricket and games by the co-owner of a Knightsbridge department store. Iron rods to support cricket netting were still in place.

The inspector considered that the building, even in its poor condition, clearly still had special architectural interest in that a standardised construction system designed mainly for horticultural structures was chosen for a sporting function. She remarked that it was a remarkable survivor from an era of wealth and indulgence, with a strong sense of melancholy given that the venture came right at the end of the heyday of the great country house.

The inspector acknowledged that full repair of the building would be likely to involve dismantling most if not all of the structure above the perimeter brick walls and its replacement with a high proportion of replica components. She nevertheless concluded that this would not negate the special architectural and historic interest of the building if carried out to the highest conservation standards as part of a scheme for its future long term use. Whilst public grants or ownership would be unlikely to be forthcoming, she considered that some form of charitable or private ownership had not been found to be impossible and appropriate marketing had not been carried out.

Further, the case for conservation of the building through enabling development had not been thoroughly investigated. She concluded that the demolition of the winter garden would be contrary to the broad aims of the NPPF to conserve heritage assets.

Inspector: Jacqueline Wilkinson; Hearing

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