Council officials have shelved an application from Top Gear star Richard Hammond to renovate his £2m Grade II-listed 15th-century castle with a new conservatory and sunroom.
Mr Hammond’s dreams of renovating Bollitree Castle in Herefordshire have finally been realized by Herefordshire Council after months of back and forth that reportedly failed to address concerns about officers’ estate.
Hammond’s plans were originally approved in 2019, but took a turn for the worse in March 2021, when he sought to introduce new design features, including a conservatory kitchen and utility room extensions, internal modifications and the transformation of the existing conservatory into a solarium. Reports from The Forest Review.
At this point, the council’s buildings conservation officer, Conor Ruttledge, halted the plan while requesting more information.
And with the deadline now past, Simon Rowles, Herefordshire Council’s development manager, wrote to Hammond informing him that the plans will be scrapped.
Richard Hammond and his wife Mindy (above) bought their castle near Ross-on-Wye, Herefordshire, for £2 million in 2008
Hammond and his wife wanted to tear down this conservatory (pictured as currently seen) at the rear of their 15th-century castle and replace it with a larger sun room.
Rowles pointed out that there had been an inability to secure a meeting, or receive additional information required from Mr. Hammond.
Planning documents reveal conservationists claim the new plans will cause “unjustifiable damage” to the house.
Sarah Lewis, Inspector of Historic Buildings and Areas of Historic England, said: “Bollitree Castle is one of a group of high-end listed buildings with immense character and much historical and aesthetic value.
‘The proposal to replace the conservatory and erect an extension on the north elevation results in unreasonable damage to the significance that was avoided by an alternative scheme.
This is an artist’s impression of what his new sun room would look like, incorporating a larger kitchen, which has been criticized by Historic England as ‘inappropriate’.
Plans for the star (above) have been condemned as “visually and architecturally intrusive” by Historic England, which has recommended that the proposals be redesigned.
‘Historic England recommends that the proposals be reviewed and redrafted to avoid this harm.’
Ms Lewis added in a letter to the council: ‘Historic England considers that the kitchen would hurt significance because of its visually and architecturally intrusive form and inappropriate function.
Hammond (pictured) is one of Britain’s most recognizable TV presenters after helming Top Gear.
These concerns underscore the main issue that outsourcing a traditionally low-status, and therefore inconspicuously located, function on the historic house’s garden elevation would create an awkward and inappropriate contrast to the traditional design and character of this building. and would result in damage to importance.
“Historic England has concerns regarding claims on heritage grounds.”
A design statement from Hammond Architects states that their new plans have the advantage of making the kitchen immediately adjacent to the dining room and foyer.
The statement reads: ‘The clients’ requirement for kitchen accommodation is modest and as such this item fits into a marginally larger plan than the approved conservatory.
“The main advantage of this is that the approved location for the kitchen extension can be reserved for the house service and storage room within the approved space, without the need to subdivide or compromise the historic room that is the existing kitchen.” “.
The couple originally had plans for an extension to the kitchen and boot room and a new sun room in the castle (above) approved by Herefordshire Council in 2019, but plans have changed.
As part of their new application, the Hammonds submitted this sketch of the southwest elevation of their beautiful property.
Hammond and his wife Mindy have spent the last 13 years living happily in the castle (above).
Car aficionado Hammond tried to push his new plans forward with the help of a report he commissioned for earlier plans from heritage expert Justin Ayton, who was not involved in the current proposal.
Meanwhile, historic England required the plans for the kitchen and utility room to be redrawed if they were to be approved by council.
Hammond made a name for himself as one of Britain’s most renowned TV presenters fronting Top Gear and now The Grand Tour on Amazon Prime with Jeremy Clarkson and James May.
He was nearly killed in 2006 when his jet-powered dragster Vampire skidded off a track at 288 mph in a Top Gear stunt.
The father-of-two later revealed that he experienced depression, paranoia and memory loss due to the brain damage he sustained.