Will councillors vote to protect an historic building that is part of Blakeney’s heritage, or will they allow aggressive development to destroy all that is special and unique about our beautiful area of Norfolk?
- Credit: ALLY McGILVRAY
Concerns have been raised that the character of north Norfolk is being compromised by 'unsympathetic' house building.
Parish councillors issued the warning after controversial plans were unveiled to demolish the former rectory in Wiveton Road, Blakeney - which has been described as 'one of the most architecturally treasured villages in East Anglia'.
Ross and Rachel Thrower, currently living in London, have applied to North Norfolk District Council for planning permission to replace the six bedroom two-storey detached property with a modern two-storey five-bedroom family home as they look to return to their roots.
Originally built in 1924, the building, which is not listed, has fallen into a state of disrepair.
And the local authority has recommended the plans for approval ahead of a meeting of its development committee at district council headquarters in Cromer on Thursday.
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However, local residents have argued the building should be listed and complained that the plans are not appropriate for a sensitive site and could damage the Glaven Valley Conservation Area and the Norfolk Coast Area of Natural Beauty.
Barendina Smedley, who lives in the neighbouring Old Rectory, said: 'Recent research has revealed that the house was designed by the much-admired local architect John Page, who is responsible for many other local landmarks including the Blakeney War Memorial, two programmes of restoration at East Barsham Hall, and the church screen at Great Ryburgh.
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'We believe profoundly that, rather than drastic recourse to demolition, this architecturally distinctive and much-cherished former Rectory should be restored and renovated using the architect's original plans of 1925, recently discovered in the Church of England archives.
'Members of the Development Committee of North Norfolk District Council are due to vote on these proposals on Thursday, January 19. The choice in front of them is a stark one - will they vote to protect an historic building that is part of Blakeney's heritage, or will they allow aggressive development to destroy all that is special and unique about our beautiful area of Norfolk?'
Campaigners claims have been supported by national conservation group Save Britain's Heritage.
But, despite receiving 10 letters of objection, the council's Conservation and Design Officer has stated the former rectory cannot be considered sacrosanct.
And a letter in support of the plans describe the current building, which has seen its character underminded by the installation of uPVC windows, as very ordinary and barely visible from the road or neighbouring properties.
It adds: 'The existing building has no special qualities beyond being old... this building cannot be refused on the basis that the existing house is of significant architectural value or on the basis that the proposals dare to be interesting and express the simple fact that they have been designed in 2017, not 1917.'