Blakeney Rectory Decision

Dear friends —

I am sorry to have to tell you that the NNDC Development Committee approved the application to demolish the New Rectory.

Despite the large number of clear objections, the evidence submitted, and the planning policy arguments made by SAVE Britain’s Heritage, the C20th Society and us all, the Committee voted unanimously to approve the application (with only a minor amendment to insist on retaining hedging to the south).

I spoke to object; Mr Hudson from the applicants’ architects spoke for the proposals. Our local councillor Karen Ward gave a summary of local sentiment and why she had called the case in. The NNDC officials gave a decent summary of the arguments but did not focus on the conservation area point.

Thanks to all of you — especially to Chris Wheeler for coming along today to give moral support.

Barendina and I are very grateful for your support advice and friendship throughout this process.

We will now consult urgently with our lawyers and planning consultants to see if there are grounds for judicial review or other ways forward. We are not going to give up until all angles have been explored.

Whatever happens here, we have learnt a lot more about the planning process and the need for vigilance and early efforts to protect the built and landscape environment. Perhaps we can all meet soon to see what pre-emptive action we can take to prevent further undesirable development?


(PS, from Barendina – please do pass this email on to anyone whom you think might be interested in preserving what is left of the swiftly-vanishing character of our own part of north Norfolk.)

Iain & Barendina Smedley
The Old Rectory
Wiveton Road
Norfolk  NR25 7NJ

One thought on “Blakeney Rectory Decision

  1. Sorry about the decision regarding Blakeney Rectory last week which I was alerted to by CPRE. I note the references to the historic environment and conservation area:

    “By way of example, Page designed the Blakeney War Memorial, probably including the two adjacent ‘Memorial Cottages’ (1921) and Pye’s Garage in the New Road, Blakeney (1923). He also worked on the following: Priory House (modifications); Highfield House; Mansard; White Friars (the original building, now rebuilt); several houses in Coronation Lane; Old Garden Cottage on the Quay; several barn conversions along the Quay; houses along the Morston Road; No1, Kettle Hill (remodelling); and a couple of others on the Langham Road. Indeed, he may well be responsible for a modest extension to the Old Rectory c. 1924. The village that so many residents and visitors love today – a place where old blends gracefully with new – is, in no small part, Page’s achievement.

    “Page also painted the famous and much-loved portrait of the coxswain George Long (c. 1920) that hangs in Blakeney church.

    “Further afield, Page was responsible for the ‘Think and Thank’ screen at St Andrews, Great Ryburgh (1921), and executed two major campaigns of restoration at East Barsham (1922, 1936), documented by Avrary Tipping in Country Life (1924) and praised by Pevsner as both ‘conscientious and judicious’. These same qualities can be seen in his design for the Rectory, which is not only an attractive late Arts & Crafts building in its own right, but responds with tact and sensitivity to the older buildings nearby, such as the church of St Nicholas (Grade I), the parish school (Grade II) and the Old Rectory (Grade II*).”

    This suggests to me that the importance of the Rectory is its place as part of a group. Have you asked Historic England how to approach protecting a group of buildings scattered across the village and further afield? They may have initiated some new protective designations for this, which I do not think previously was possible to protect.

    I note also your reference to the potential of Judicial review. As I expect you are aware, JR can only look at whether a decision was reasonably made. However, you need legal advice. For example, I don’t know whether it is only in relation to planning decisions that a decision has to be unreasonable. I think in other matters, JR can look at whether a public authority exercised its discretion or powers.

    I believe the time limit for applying for JR has been reduced from 13 to six weeks. You can find initial thoughts on these subjects by a Google search, probably.

    It seems to me that the issue that was not taken into account (and you can check this from the planning committee’s minutes of the meeting which you must ask for) is the the conservation area. Or was it the historic environment group mentioned above?


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