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Married couple’s plans to demolish Burnham Overy Staithe bungalow and build modern home rejected by West Norfolk Council

A married couple hoping to demolish their 1970s bungalow and build a “beautiful modern house” have been refused planning permission.

West Norfolk Council’s planning committee said the new property would not “respond sensitively or sympathetically” to the character of the area – and that it would fail to enhance the North Norfolk coastal landscape.

Don and Lorna Mackenzie had been hoping to complete the work at their home – called Furusato – on Wells Road in Burnham Overy Staithe.

Sunset at Burnham Overy Staithe, where Don and Lorna Mackenzie had been hoping to demolish their bungalow and construct a new, modern home
Sunset at Burnham Overy Staithe, where Don and Lorna Mackenzie had been hoping to demolish their bungalow and construct a new, modern home

They submitted an application seeking permission at the start of August last year – but on Tuesday, it was blocked.

That decision came despite planning officers recommending the application be approved subject to a number of conditions, such as making sure trees in the bungalow’s vicinity were protected during any work.

Mr and Mrs Mackenzie had been looking to replace their existing 1970s bungalow – described by planning officers as having “no particular architectural merit” – with an “unashamedly modern dwelling”.

It would have featured the likes of a ground floor garage with solar panels, three en-suite bedrooms, a home office and an open-plan kitchen, as well as an integrated annexe.

The site lies within Burnham Overy Staithe’s Conservation Area and the North Norfolk Coast National Landscape area.

Burnham Overy Parish Council rejected to the proposals, arguing that the house would have extended beyond the village’s development boundary – setting a “significant negative precedent”.

The southern 40% of the site, where the current bungalow is located, is within the development boundary, but the remaining 60% is outside.

Councillors also said it would cause “significant harm to the character of the conservation area”.

However, Mr and Mrs Mackenzie said that they “love” the village and agreed that preserving its character is “very important”.

In a supporting statement, Mrs Mackenzie had said: "My husband and I are confident that we can build a beautiful modern house and create a beautiful garden (using the services of a talented young landscape designer) that will enhance the property.

“We also feel that if we were to go back to the drawing board and redesign another modern house using different materials there is a good chance it would still not appeal to some of the neighbours.

“There is a concern about the view of the house from the coast path, however there is a lot of screening in front of our house, indeed quite a lot more than the surrounding houses, and we intend to plant more trees and shrubs in the garden and along the north in keeping with our ‘ecology first’ landscape plan.

“The village comprises many different architectural styles and nowhere is this more on show that from the coast path with the varied and eclectic houses of different sizes, periods and materials all sitting in harmony with each other and we believe the new Furusato will blend sympathetically with its neighbours and echo the landscape with its earth coloured structure and green sedum roof.

“While there have been a number of objections to our plan we have also had quite a lot of in person support from people locally.”

Natural England made no objections to the plans, stating that they would not have a significant adverse impact on the conservation area, while the likes of Anglian Water and a senior ecologist also had no complaints.

However, more than 50 letters of objection were received. Some said the new house would overlook neighbouring properties, while another said that “the design is totally out of keeping with the vast majority of the built environment of the village”.

Despite that, planning officers said: “The existing dwelling is of no particular architectural merit and its demolition is therefore considered acceptable.

“It is clear that public opinion is that the development would result in harm to the conservation area and the national landscape and that, in their opinion, that harm would be substantial and unacceptable.

“However, the conservation officer has a different opinion and considers… that whilst the development would be visible and ‘more dominant on the plot’ it would not be ‘dominating’ and would not result in harm.”

However, earlier this week, the borough council’s planning committee opted to refuse Mr and Mrs Mackenzie planning permission.

Members’ report said: “The proposed development, by virtue of its design and materials does not respond sensitively or sympathetically to the context and character of the locality and is inappropriate in the Conservation Area and would not protect or enhance the North Norfolk Coast National Landscape, especially when viewed from the Norfolk Coastal path.”

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