Oldway Mansion has been called a miniature Versailles – which was the intention of the owner, Paris Singer, who rebuilt the house built by his father, Issac Merritt Singer, founder of the Singer sewing machine company.
The house and grounds have long been a pleasant retreat for the locals who, both old and young, have enjoyed the grounds with many weddings held in the house. However, rising maintenance costs have led the Council into some bizarre logic. To save the house they have now signed an agreement to lease this important local asset to a developer who has claimed that many millions will be spent apparently converting it into a hotel! In addition, the Rotunda (formerly the stables) will be incorporated into this development. In a telling comment, Jason Collard, managing director of Akkeron, said the building was an ‘amazing site’. Why do councils keep falling for this classic play from the ‘developers handbook’? The house is a mere architectural inconvenience to them in many cases which put these houses at risk. The idea that the vandalism of this house should be funded by selling off some of the very gardens which create such a special location is dubious to say the least.
In short, this is a council with little regard for their heritage, selling an architecturally important and much loved local landmark to save a few quid. It may be expensive to keep it public but to deny or severely limit access whilst undoubtably compromising this house should be challenged. I’m sure the council will also find that the plans are entirely acceptable to their planning committee so in this round of mutual backslapping I can only hope that something will happen to bring the council to it’s senses.
Full story: ‘160 homes would have to be built to save ‘amazing’ Oldway Mansion‘ [Herald Express]