Fate of Blakeney’s historic old rectory being decided at London’s High Court

Councillors visiting the rectory earlier this year as part of a site visit. Picture: ALLY McGILVRAY

Councillors visiting the rectory earlier this year as part of a site visit. Picture: ALLY McGILVRAY - Credit: ALLY McGILVRAY

Proposals to demolish an old rectory in Blakeney, and replace it with a modern home, have come under fire at London's High Court.

Ross McIntyre and Rachel Thrower bought the rectory in Wiveton Road from the Church of England last year.

And North Norfolk District Council has granted them planning permission to demolish the building.

In its place, they want to put a 'more modern' home, complete with fashionably rusty-looking steel cladding.

But now pressure group, North Norfolk Planning Watch Ltd (NNPW), is asking a top judge to overturn the planning consent.

They argue, amongst other things, that the planning application was made on the wrong type of form.

As the project involved demolition of a locally important building, a 'more specific' form should have been used.

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The result, NNPW claims, is that the proposals were not given the level of scrutiny they deserved.

In particular, it is claimed that the council failed to consider whether the rectory was in such a poor state as to be beyond economic repair.

And NNPW is challenging the council's stance that the rectory was 'not a good candidate' to be protected by a local listing.

The council should have paid 'special attention' to the 'preserving or enhancing' the area's character and appearance, the body argues.

Clare Parry, for the council, said the planning committee members 'had all relevant matter drawn to their attention' by planning officers.

'They carefully considered those matters and came to an unassailable planning judgment as to the appropriateness of the proposal', she added.

Although situated in an area of outstanding natural beauty, the rectory was not a 'heritage asset' or listed, either nationally or locally.

The basic form used to make the planning application was government-approved and 'apt' to the proposals, added the barrister.

There was, she said, no need to show that the rectory was beyond economic repair before its demolition could be approved.

It had suffered 'neglect and underinvestment' and was in a poor state of repair, the court heard.

The replacement home would, said Miss Parry, 'use a mix of traditional and contemporary materials', including Corton Steel.

The High Court hearing continues and Judge Martin Rodger QC is expected to reserve his decision until a later date.