Row over demolition of iconic home

CONSERVATIONISTS are complaining over proposals to demolish a Suffolk house that was hailed as being ahead of its time when built half a century ago.Shollond Hill at Nacton was the home of writer and philosopher Douglas Harding and when it was built in 1955 it was the epitome of fashion.

CONSERVATIONISTS are complaining over proposals to demolish a Suffolk house that was hailed as being ahead of its time when built half a century ago.

Shollond Hill at Nacton was the home of writer and philosopher Douglas Harding and when it was built in 1955 it was the epitome of fashion.

Its open-plan living, huge floor to roof glass windows, and modern appliances, fixtures and fittings were very different from traditional style homes at a time when Pop Art was emerging and architecture were taking great strides.

Mr Harding - who died last year aged 97 and was known internationally for his reflections on life, especially his philosophical thinking called The Headless Way - designed the property in Levington Road.


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Now the current owners, Bermac Properties, of Chelmsford, have submitted proposals to demolish the house, which was Mr Harding's home until his death, and replace it with a new home with outbuildings and a swimming-pool.

Suffolk Preservation Society (SPS) have objected and are urging Suffolk Coastal council to apply for the building to be listed and save it.

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SPS director Richard Ward said Shollond Hill was an important building, which has been praised by renowned architectural historian and critic Sir Nikolaus Pevsner.

In his 1961 book, The Buildings of England: Suffolk, Sir Nikolaus said: “Good one-storey modern house, 1955 by D E Harding. A specially nice colour scheme; brick painted grey, the gables purple, the eaves and soffits lime-green - may the colours last.”

“It was extremely unusual for Nikolaus Pevnser to mention any modern building in any of his books,” said Mr Ward.

“When he wrote about Shollond Hill it had been built for just six years and not only did he mention it but wrote about it in quite glowing terms.

“If the building is listable or listed, then the application should be refused.

“If the building is not listable or listed, then the local planning authority should seek the retention of the building and its proper and sympathetic repair.

“To facilitate the needs of the new owners and to help with retention and repair the society would not be adverse to a sympathetic well designed appropriately located, scaled and detailed modest extension.”

Andrew Temperton, of Bermac Properties, said: “In fairness, the building was quite ahead of its time and there are some interesting ideas in there, but it was built out of materials which quite frankly were never going to last and now it is derelict and falling down.

“It is beyond saving.”

Surrounding trees had upset the foundations and there were cracks running through the building.

The new property would be of a classical design in keeping with the village and modern inside.

Is Shollond Hill worth keeping? Write to Your Letters, Evening Star, 30 Lower Brook Street, Ipswich, IP4 1AN, or e-mail EveningStarLetters@eveningstar.co.uk

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