Oxford

Rowan Atkinson's Oxfordshire new home plans approved

  • 25 August 2010
  • From the section Oxford
Artist impression of new building
Image caption The plans include a "guest pavilion" and a tennis court

Actor Rowan Atkinson has been given permission to build a modern new home in an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB).

The star of Blackadder and Mr Bean hired American architect Richard Meier to design the site in Ipsden, near Wallingford, Oxfordshire.

Some residents said the plans were not in keeping with the rest of the area.

The application was approved by South Oxfordshire Council despite having been recommended for refusal.

The application includes plans to demolish existing accommodation and build a detached house with a "guest pavilion" and a tennis court.

The site already includes a main house, garage, tennis court and other buildings.

Speaking at the planning meeting, Mr Atkinson agreed with the council's conclusion that the house would stand out from, rather than blend in with, the landscape.

However, he said this was not grounds to reject the plans, but simply a description on how good architecture works.

Talking about the colour of the house, Mr Atkinson said there was nothing inappropriate about its stark white colour if the building was proportionally designed and he pointed out that the existing house on the site is white.

The application described the design of the property as "not a departure, but rather a reinvention of the traditional country house".

It added: "The home will add to our architectural heritage rather than parody it."

Atkinson's planning consultant Haydn Morris said this would be the first building in the UK which had been designed by Mr Meier.

'Graceful and elegant'

He said: "He has built extensively around the world winning very many awards and he's very highly regarded as one of the world's leading architects.

"We truly believe that the proposal is not simply a replacement house, but a building that will stand the test of time to become a true 'classic'."

Atkinson, who said he had lived in the area for 28 years, said he understood the concerns but said his neighbours "need have no fear".

He said he did not want to live in a house that was "weird or futuristic" but one that is "simple, graceful and elegant".

Ipsden Parish Council and the Chilterns Conservation Board were among those to raise objections that the building would be "conspicuous" and look out of character.

However, some residents wrote letters of support for the design as did a number of architects giving their backing to Mr Meier's work.

Planning officers for South Oxfordshire District Council had recommended the plans were refused due to "the angular form, white finish and the extent of the glazing which would result in buildings which appear as stark features in contrast to the rolling rural landscape of the AONB."

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