Councillors voted to approve an extension to a listed cottage on the outskirts of Alnwick, ignoring the advice of the conservation officer.
At Tuesday’s meeting of Northumberland County Council’s planning committee, members were recommended to refuse a planning application and listed building consent for a single-storey, timber-framed conservatory for the grade II-listed Camphill Cottage.
The conservation and planning officers did not have a problem with the addition of the conservatory, or the appearance of the proposed new extension, but their issue was that a significant part of the wall was to be removed to create the opening into the new room.
However, a proposal to side with officer advice and refuse the application was lost by six votes to five, before a motion to approve the plans was passed by the same margin.
The application had been called into committee by Coun Gordon Castle, ward member for Alnwick, who, in a statement, said that he did not agree with the view of the conservation officer, adding: “I speak as one who would strongly oppose the desecration of a fine Alnwick building.”
The owner of the property, Malcolm Green, also spoke at the meeting, explaining that while the whole cottage is listed, there have already been a number of additions over the years, including a modern extension on the side.
He suggested the new conservatory would represent ‘less than substantial harm’ given that the property was formerly two houses, has four external doors and a modern addition.
Mr Green recognised that he and his wife are ‘only the guardians of this very interesting piece of local history’, but said: “Virtually all of the features which are significant will be unaffected by this scheme.”
Coun Tony Reid moved refusal of the scheme, saying: “I believe it’s important that the original design is retained.”
Coun Heather Cairns said it was difficult because of the objection solely relating to the loss of the wall and not to the conservatory itself, but concluded: “I can’t vote for taking down a historic wall on a listed building.”
But Coun Anthony Murray said: “We are looking at something that’s going to enhance the quality of life of those living there and I can’t see why we should refuse it.”