Former Blakeney rectory set for demolition, after group fails to save it

Councillors visiting the rectory earlier this year as part of a site visit. Picture: ALLY McGILVRAY

Councillors visiting the rectory earlier this year as part of a site visit. Picture: ALLY McGILVRAY - Credit: ALLY McGILVRAY

A former rectory in Blakeney will be demolished to make way for a new modern home, after a pressure group failed to block plans at the High Court.

Ross McIntyre and Rachel Thrower bought the rectory in Wiveton Road from the Church of England last year.

North Norfolk District council (NNDC) granted them planning permission to knock it down and replace it with a new property in January.

But North Norfolk Planning Watch Ltd (NNPW) mounted a judicial review challenge to the scheme, and a one-day High Court hearing was held last month, before the decision was announced today.

Dr Barendina Smedley, director of NNPW, said: 'We're disappointed that the judge did not uphold any of our grounds for judicial review.

'We're even more disappointed that, despite expressions of concern from so many local residents, as well as strong statements of support from groups including SAVE Britain's Heritage, the Twentieth Century Society and the Rectory Society, there appears to be no way to save a remarkably intact 1920s architect-designed parsonage from demolition.

'Replacing this gentle old house with an ugly, out-of-scale 'trophy home' is the sort of casual historical vandalism that will, doubtless, seem totally inexplicable to our children and grandchildren. Given the judge's ruling, we have been advised that there is no scope for further appeal.'

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However, Sue Arnold, NNDC cabinet portfolio holder for planning, welcomed the ruling.

She said: 'The rectory is neither listed nor a heritage asset. Following the decision, the owners can now begin to create a new home using both traditional and contemporary materials.

'Court action is regrettable, but in this case, it has enabled the council to successfully defend its decision making process.'

Karen Ward, ward member for Blakeney (Glaven Valley), said: 'I am very conscious that there were mixed feelings in both communities about this application - both for and against. It was important to ensure that all sides had an opportunity to make their case and that the decision made by the development committee was well informed.'

The rectory was built in 1925 as a replacement for the listed Old Rectory. The owners did not wish to comment.