Home with pool and gym approved in spite of councillor's concerns it would spoil view of Northamptonshire church

An artist's impression of how the house will look
An artist's impression of how the house will look

A home has been granted planning permission in spite of a ward councillor’s concerns that it could ‘spoil the setting’ of a Northamptonshire village church.

Councillors on South Northamptonshire Council’s planning committee granted approval for Woodcote House, in Church Lane, Stoke Bruerne, to be demolished and replaced with a two-storey home and separate pool and gym building.

How Woodcote House currently looks in Stoke Bruerne

How Woodcote House currently looks in Stoke Bruerne

But ward councillor Sandra Barnes feared the scheme would be an ‘overdevelopment of the site’, formerly known as Happylands, and is ‘out of keeping with the character of the area’. She believes it will impact on the setting and significance of the Grade II listed St. Mary’s Church nearby, which dates back to the 14th century.

But a heritage assessment by Cotswold Archaeology outlined that the ‘proposed development will enhance the character and appearance of these views’.

Planning officers at South Northamptonshire Council had recommended the scheme be approved, but a decision was deferred at the last planning meeting (January 3) in order to carry out a site visit.

Having carried out the site visit on January 22, councillors ultimately decided to grant it planning permission at its latest planning committee on February 7.

Councillor Sandra Barnes felt the application was out of keeping with the nearby setting of the St. Mary's Church

Councillor Sandra Barnes felt the application was out of keeping with the nearby setting of the St. Mary's Church

Councillor Steven Hollowell said: “I think the decision to send this back to committee, and then for us to look at the site, were both right to do. For me, having visited the site, the main consideration is the protection of the setting for the listed building. If the committee are minded to approve this, then I think there are a number of conditions to protect the buffer zone between the site and the church. Anything to enhance that area would be welcomed.”

Neither Councillor Barnes or the applicant, Anthony Mallock, were allowed to speak as it was considered that the debate had already taken place. Councillor Barnes did however interject briefly to state her belief that the site visit had been ‘inadequate’.

But statutory organisations, including Stoke Bruerne Parish Council and Historic England, had raised no objections over the application

Owner Mr Mallock said following the approval: “I’m delighted that the site visit has resulted in the councillors seeing the benefit to the local environment and the area.

“It will be much more economically viable and closer to zero emissions. We’re looking forward to it being our forever home and incorporating the improvements that we have shown in the application.”