Work to listed home 'harmed heritage'
HISTORIC features lost during "unacceptable alterations" to grand Amberley Court have been inspected by planners.
Some 33 contraventions of listed building rules at the 200 year-old mansion were discussed on a site visit for an informal public inquiry.
Government inspector Anthony Davison heard from Stroud District Council's Jamie Cooper and Kate Russell the alterations had caused substantial damage to the "important heritage asset".
The council officials also listed 78 steps needed to restore the house to its former glory. But experts representing Amberley Court's owner Dr Mark Harrison, said the alterations had not been harmful.
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The inquiry hearing was opened only briefly at the council's Ebley Mill headquarters before it adjourned to Amberley Court.
The 200 year-old house, off Theescombe Hill, is said to have been the real house where the Victorian novel John Halifax Gentleman was based. Its interior had largely maintained a late Regency/early Victorian historic character until Dr Harrison carried out alterations, repairs and refurbishments.
The council took enforcement action, Dr Harrison appealed, and the inquiry was triggered.
A summary of the council's case aid: "Certain alterations ie the installation of wooden panelling on walls ... of halogen spotlights, limed oak architraving and of two panel lined oak doors are repeated often throughout the building. The totality of the works has done substantial harm to the listed building."
But planning consultant Andrew Williams and heritage architect Stephen Levrant, for Dr Harrison, said they'd thoroughly researched the building and its significance.
"My client's case on appeal is that many of the alterations do not cause harm and that listed building consent should be granted for the work," Mr Williams added.
"It is fundamentally incorrect to describe the house as Regency," he said.
It was the "eclecticism and degrees of variation" at Amberley Court which formed its character and significance.
"That has been misinterpreted or even ignored by the council," he said.
However both Dr Harrison and the council officers were in accord over many elements and both parties continued to work together, he added.