The alternative property, to be located on the site of a 200-year-old Derbyshire farm, has been compared to Chatsworth House and said to be more in line with Beverly Hills – the home of Hollywood stars.
Derbyshire Dells County Council has approved plans from real estate developer Tim Tomlinson to demolish and redevelop a site at Nether Hillside Farm in Biggin, in the countryside between Ashburn and Bilber.
Plans would see the Georgian farmhouse, believed to be around the 18th century, demolished between 200 and 250 years ago, due to issues with its structural integrity.
Council officials agreed that the existing farm “does not make a positive contribution to the landscape’s character.”
However, members of the parish council and residents who live nearby feel that the farmhouse is a “beautiful old property” that should be restored.
They feel that the proposed new five-bedroom property – including a sauna, gym, six-car garage, and cinema – would be a far cry from the rustic feel of the area.
“The grief of destroying this Georgian farm in the community is unbearable,” said Louise Redfern, president of Biggin by Hulland Parish Meeting, for the local democracy reporting service.
She claimed that the existing property could be redeveloped and restored and that “the developer just wants to level it and build a huge new house.”
Ms Redfern said: “I think it is appalling that this is happening in our rural village. It is not deserted, the developer has been living in it, it has a terrible extension that was never completed and all the focus was on the weak extension – which must be disposed of.
“I just think it’s wrong. There is strong opposition from residents and we don’t feel they (the council members) have taken any notice to the public and yet what the developer said was like gospel.
It is devastating to society, the countryside and the precedent it will set. I don’t think anyone realizes how big it is when it’s built.”
Ms Redfern told an area council meeting earlier this month: “This would fundamentally alter the landscape and destroy beautiful period property if this planning application were permitted and permitted, and would be wrong to destroy it to allow for a proposed off-scale building.
“It is nearly four times the size of my property, nearly twice its height, overlooks us, and is accentuated at the front of the hills where it will dominate the entire valley and our property.
It’s like a public house, not a home. It looks like Chatsworth House will be built on top of us.
“This is Biggin from Hulland, it’s not Beverly Hills, why would we allow buildings like this to fundamentally change and damage the countryside.”
During the meeting, William Hebert, a member of Biggin by Hulland Parish Meeting, said the current farm is one of the oldest buildings in the area.
He said Barry Joyce, vice president of the Derbyshire Historic Building Trust, had found the 18th-century property “worthy of keeping as an unspecified heritage asset”.
Mr. Joyce said the property has been around for 250 years and that restoration is “entirely possible” and that replacing it “would forever destroy a part of the local heritage”.
Cllr Georgina Geraghty, Kirk Ereton Parish Council member, told the meeting: “It is intrusive by its design and size and significantly damages the landscape, and does not reflect the character of the area as a whole.
“People don’t want our landscape to change so much that we don’t realize it. This is more in line with another city or country.
“The enormity of the proposed dwelling is deeply disturbing and equates to eight mid-sized detached houses.”
Wendy Whit-Bride, who lives near the site, told the meeting: “I am absolutely amazed at the recommendation that this request be granted.
“This spoils the country hillside at the edge of Ecclesbourne Hill forever.”
Tim Allen, of Green 4 Developments Ltd, speaking on behalf of the applicant, said at the meeting: “The scheme on one foundation replaces an existing, old and problematic building with a new, high-quality, engineered home that reflects the style, nature and physical finishes of the buildings in the area. It is a highly efficient proposal in Energy use Designed to have a low carbon footprint.
“The existing buildings on the site, modified as they were, do not present an attractive facade and would not meet the requirements of modern life, if they were returned to an earlier arrangement.”
Sarah Arbon, chief planning officer for the county council, said the expansion of the property was built in the 1980s and is “structurally unsound.”
She said: “The original house was dominated by extensions which eventually caused significant damage to the structure
“The extensions overwhelm any public views, and as such are not seen as making a positive contribution to the landscape’s character.”
Cllr Garry Purdy, president of the council, questioned the size, design and character of the proposed new home and said much of the discussion was “subjective” but felt that the existing property “doesn’t seem to have much architectural merit at all.”
Cllr Stuart Lees asked the council to attach a clause ensuring that the windows on the new property were made of anti-glare glass. He said he could see the existing building “collapse” on a site visit and that the site and all other homes are currently obscured by trees.
Cllr Peter Slack said the new drug would be “massive” compared to what is currently in place.
He said: “It is a shame that a building like this has never been listed before, buildings like this we don’t want to lose as part of our heritage.
“It can be restored, yes it can cost a lot of money to restore it, but it can be restored and improved and the additions that can be put on it can go along with the property.
“I am disappointed that this giant property will be brought down there in the countryside.”
Cllr Peter O’Brien said the board had design-based policies that were not just subjective opinions but solid advice to developers.
He said: “This is the kind of development most appropriate somewhere in the local counties (counties around London), I don’t think it reflects the characteristics of Derbyshire Dales.”
Cllr Sue Burfoot said: “Surely this proposed dwelling would make a statement, by virtue of its design and scale but do we want to make that kind of statement in this area… In my view we certainly don’t.
“One speaker mentioned that he would be more in line with Beverly Hills and I totally agree. I think it’s not appropriate for his surroundings.
“The agent talked about one alternative but it’s clearly not. It’s too big, it’s too dominant and it’s out of character with its surroundings.”
Cllr Neil Buttle said the proposed scheme is “a bit too big” and the applicant should be given a chance to reduce it and then come back with the smaller project.
Cllr Richard FitzHerbert said the assessment of the current building’s condition was clear, as “uninhabitable, structurally compromised and completely abandoned.”
He said, “Unless you have heaps of money, I don’t know how you can recreate it for modern life.
Cllr Purdy said: “While we may not like the building, it may be a building that really grows on people.
“We have to accept sometimes that contemporary can be useful, and it doesn’t always have to fit into the vernacular.”
Council members first voted to reject the scheme, which was rejected by a vote of four to six against. The members then voted to approve the bill, and it was approved by six votes in favour, three against, and one abstaining (Cllr Buttle).