Renewed plans to restore Grade II listed property near Leamington have been rejected

Renewed plans to restore a Grade II listed property on the edge of Offchurch have been scuppered because two new houses planned within the grounds "would have been overbearing to other listed buildings", according to planners.

Eathorpe, Hunningham, Offchurch and Wappenbury Joint Parish Council threw their weight behind the scheme that would have seen Offa House, in Village Street, restored with modern 1960s and 80s extensions demolished. More than 50 letters of support were also sent but these were countered by an objection from Warwick District Council’s conservation officer.

Planning officer Helena Obremski told this week’s meeting of the district council’s planning committee that while there were some positive aspects to the latest scheme, they were not enough to outweigh the negatives.

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Referring to plans refused in 2019, she said: “The previous scheme was dismissed on the grounds that the proposal did not represent appropriate development in the green belt and had a harmful impact on listed buildings and the conservation area.

The scheme would have seen Offa House restored with modern 1960s and 80s extensions demolished.

“The current scheme still represents inappropriate development and would arguably have a more harmful impact as it spreads built form further across the site. The proposal seeks to split the site into multiple residential units and the development still engulfs and overwhelms the existing coach house.

“It is recognised that there are notable heritage benefits associated with the removal of extensions to Offa House. However, overall the scheme still results in harm to heritage assets.”

Parish council chairman Cllr Stephen Palmer questioned what would happen if the plans were thrown out.

He said: “In principle we support this proposal - it does a number of things which we think brings positive benefits. It allows a Grade II building to be restored to its full glory. It removes the ugly 80s building, provides a limited allocation of infill housing and has lots of support from Offchurch residents.

The scheme would have seen Offa House restored with modern 1960s and 80s extensions demolished.

“This has been a long-running application. If the committee rejects this proposal it is unclear what the future will be for this important building.”

Councillors were told that a new house - referred to as property C - planned alongside the historic coach house would have three bedrooms and would have been around five times bigger than the existing building. Another new build - property D - would also have had three bedrooms and would have been sited next to the Grade II listed Lodge Cottage.

Cllr Oliver Jacques (Con, Warwick All Saints and Woodloes) said: “The proposed development of Offa House looks entirely sensible but the issues surrounding properties C and D do seem to be substantial so I propose we go along with the officer's recommendations.”

Planning permission was refused by seven votes to three with one abstention.

Louise Hartog, owner of Offa House, said she will appeal the decision, adding: "We feel we have a strong case for appeal."

"Our ward councillor requested a site visit but it has been decided by officers that 'a site visit is not necessary as all the information is available in the presentation'.

Knowing that Historic England and the Georgian Group documented their change in stance after conducting a site visit it is perplexing that it is deemed 'unnecessary'."