In what could have been a scene right out of a Blackadder V pitch to the head of BBC Light Entertainment, the seventh century village of Oxfordshire came close to exhibiting their best imitation of the Dibley Town Council recently. Over the last several months, plans by the actor and star of British comedy classics such as Blackadder, Mr. Bean and The Thin Blue Line surfaced which detailed his desire to demolish his current 1930’s mansion called Handsmooth House with an architecturally futuristic “petrol station” as described by several Oxfordshire neighbors. One of the top U.S. architects, Richard Meier, has designed the structure, which received backing from a number of the world’s leading architects.
While plans were objected to by the Ipsden Parish Council and several local planning officers, the approval was also not welcomed by neighbors who felt that “…money and fame have been used to bulldoze their way through the planning process. The decision on this monstrosity is outrageous and sets a very dangerous precedent.”
Upon receiving approval for his proposed project, Atkinson responded by saying to his fellow Oxfordhire and Ipsden neighbors: “I fully understand the concern of members of the community about change and the introduction of a contemporary design into sensitive countryside. I can promise them that they need have no fear.”
“It would be a terrible shame if people felt that there was no place in the countryside for modern design when what there should be no place for in the countryside is bad design. My belief is that this house could be part of a long English tradition of contemporary architecture in the countryside, examples of which have caused some concern when built but which are now highly protected listed buildings. I have lived in South Oxfordshire for 28 years and wish to continue to live here while grasping a unique opportunity to create something of real and lasting value.”
Works for me. Let’s hope the Ipsden Parish Council and South Oxfordshire District Council ultimately feel the same way.