Council chiefs reject plans for stables at 'Poundshop Versailles'

Council chiefs reject plans for stables at 'Poundshop Versailles'

Prince Charles’ favourite architect claims minor victory in war with developers behind £7m ‘Poundshop Versailles’ after council rejects plans for stables and riding school

  • Quinlan Terry CBE helped design Prince Charles’ village, Poundbury in Dorset
  • Is among people opposing Higham Park mansion development in Suffolk
  • Plans were put forward by owners Craig Bisson – a lawyer – and his wife Nicole 

Prince Charles’ favourite architect has dealt a blow to a development dubbed a ‘Poundshop Versailles’ after plans to erect stables and a riding school at a £7million mansion were rejected.

Quinlan Terry CBE – who helped design Prince Charles’ traditionalist village, Poundbury in Dorset – is among scores of people opposing the swanky Higham Park mansion development in Suffolk.

Apoplectic conservationists fear extension works on the existing property will blight the bucolic countryside famously painted by John Constable, who lived nearby.

But they can now celebrate a small victory in their planning war against Higham Park owners, lawyer Craig Bisson and his wife Nicole.

Planning chiefs last month rejected the Bissons’ bid to build a block of stables and ménage for private use and to change a pasture into a residential garden.

However, the Bissons have previously gained permission to add two side extensions, a swimming pool, and a tree-lined driveway to their property, among other changes.

The project led to a fall-out between Mr Terry, 83, and his son Francis, 51, who has his own rival classical architecture business.  

Mr Terry Snr said lawyer Mr Bisson approached him in 2016 but then employed his son, who had just stopped working with him to set up on his own. 

Prince Charles’ favourite architect, Quinlan Terry, has dealt a blow to a development dubbed a ‘Poundshop Versailles’ after plans to erect stables and a riding school at a £7million mansion were rejected

The Bissons have also changed the bolthole’s name from Masons Lodge to Higham Park, and the property will reportedly be worth £7million once the works are completed.

The mansion boasts sweeping views of Dedham Vale in Suffolk, which inspired works by landscaper painter John Constable.

Refusing permission, Barbegh District Council’s chief planning officer Philip Isbell wrote: ‘The proposal for the stable, ménage and associated paraphernalia are, individually and combined, considered to be of a substantial scale, design and layout that would cause adverse impacts to the character of the site and surrounding area.

‘The proposal is considered to have an adverse impact on the Rolling Valley Farmlands Landscape character and designated Area of Natural Beauty.

She added: ‘Moreover, considering the application as a single piece of development, the stable block, ménage and garden extensions are clearly not a major development regardless of their already assessed overbearing scale and dominance within the landscape.’

Mr Terry is among scores of people opposing the swanky Higham Park mansion development, in Suffolk

Planning chiefs last month rejected Craig and Nicole Bisson’s (pictured) bid to build a block of stables and ménage for private use and to change a pasture into a residential garden

She said the plans would result in ‘severe harm on the landscape’.   

Mr Terry – known as Britain’s ‘high priest of classical architecture’ – lives nearby and designed the original property the Bissons are now extending.

He was ‘reluctant’ to take on the job in 2003 because ‘of its prime position in the middle of Dedham Valley’, near his own home of forty years.

But Mr Terry concluded ‘a modest two storey house with attic bedrooms would be quite acceptable and look quite nice’.

However, the architect – who helped remodel Number 10 for Margaret Thatcher – now objects to the new plans due to the ‘considerable further planning gain’.

Mr Terry added: ‘We are now confronted with a further development in the heart of Dedham Vale on such an important site.’ 

In a formal objection, Dedham Vale Society accused the Bissons of ‘salami slicing’ their planning bids to ‘minimise the extreme mass’ of their proposals (seen above) 

Chairman of the Dedham Vale Society Charles Clover also opposed the plan, saying: ‘Constable would turn in his grave if he knew his beloved Dedham Vale is being desecrated by a Poundshop Versailles. 

‘He loved the workaday modesty of this part of the English countryside and depicted a harmonious society, not the gaudy excess that led to revolution in France.’

His ‘Poundshop Versailles’ remark is a reference to French King Louis XIV’s opulent palace on the outskirts of Paris.

Peter Brookson and Kate Fairbairn, who’ve lived in a neighbouring cottage for 28 years, also objected.

The countryside where the home sits was famously painted by John Constable 

They said: ‘We are extremely concerned bout the over development of the property now called Higham Place and worried about the impact it will have on our village and Dedham Vale as a whole. […]

‘We are now faced with more large scale developments with the pool, summer house, stables, and ménage etc all of which will be very evident and will impact greatly on the look of the village that we all love.

‘We must preserve these precious open spaces and not fill them with out of scale leisure facilities for individual families.

‘Enough is enough.’

Mr Terry worked on Prince Charles’ traditionalist Poundbury village in Dorset and was awarded a CBE in the 2015 New Year Honours List.

In a formal objection, Dedham Vale Society accused the Bissons of ‘salami slicing’ their planning bids to ‘minimise the extreme mass’ of their proposals.

Mr Bisson previously said that Higham Park is ‘bigger’ than before but would be ‘softened into the landscape’, according to the Daily Mail.

Quinlan Terry CBE – who helped design Prince Charles’ traditionalist village, Poundbury in Dorset

He also reportedly said he ‘cared passionately’ about protecting Dedham Vale, calling Mr Terry ‘an amazing architect and artist’.

He reportedly defended his application for a stables and riding school, saying: ‘This is an equine parish. Lots of people ride’.

But he declined to comment on Mr Clover’s description of the house as a ‘Poundshop Versailles’.

There is no suggestion by this paper Mr Bisson did anything wrong.

‘Dedham Vale’ is one of Constable’s most famous paintings.

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