Rural neighbours condemn comedian's modern home plan

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The Independent Online

Comedian Rowan Atkinson divided opinion with plans to build a futuristic home in the middle of the countryside.

Award-winning American architect Richard Meier was tasked with creating a new home for the Blackadder star, in what would be his first project in Britain.

The modern five-bedroom, glass-fronted home would sit in an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty near the village of Ipsden in Oxfordshire - but neighbours there voiced their objections, saying it would look out of place.

It would be built on the site of Handsmooth House, a 1930s building which would have to be demolished to make way for its modern replacement.

Resident Emma Hulbert said: "This application proposes an ultra-modern house which dominates the surrounding landscape. While the modern architecture may be appropriate in London, it is wholly inappropriate to the rural landscape."

The local parish council also stepped in, saying the planned development, which would also feature a two-bedroom guest pavilion and tennis court set in six hectares of land, would be "conspicuous and look out of character and place".

Others have been keen to back the plan however, with architect Lord Richard Rogers praising Meier as "the greatest designer of houses today".

In a letter to South Oxfordshire District Council, which will make a decision on the planning application in September, he said: "The house, like all of Richard's best buildings, belongs to the classical tradition in architecture.

"The eroded white cuboid is carefully ordered in terms of scale, play of light and shadow, proportion and interlocking spaces."

He cites the example of St Paul's Cathedral as a building that faced opposition when it was built, adding: "All good architecture is modern in its time and is often shocking".

The new three-storey home would be "immensely energy efficient" and replace "a bland, uninspiring and unattractive collection of buildings", Meier claims in his application. He concludes that the new building would honour "history, context, and the future of our planet."

Neighbours have until August 13 to submit their views on the plans.