EXCLUSIVE: Grand Tour host Richard Hammond is slammed by Historic England over the star’s ‘visually and architecturally intrusive’ plans to revamp his £2m castle
Richard Hammond and his wife Mindy (above) bought their castle near Ross-on-Wye, Herefordshire, for £2m in 2008
Grand Tour presenter Richard Hammond is facing opposition from Historic England over an ‘inappropriate’ revamp of his home which dates back to the 15th century.
The former Top Gear star wants to tear down his conservatory and replace it with a new kitchen and sunroom at his country pad Bollitree Castle near Ross on Wye, Herefordshire.
His plans have been condemned as ‘visually and architecturally intrusive’ by heritage bosses at Historic England.
Hammond – affectionately known as The Hamster – paid a reported £2million in 2008 for his home which includes ‘sham’ castle features.
He originally had plans for a kitchen and boot room extension and a new sunroom approved by Herefordshire Council in 2019.
Historic England approved the earlier plans for what it called ‘elegant extensions’ to his home.
But the petrolhead is now seeking planning consent to move the kitchen to the proposed new sunroom and make it even bigger.
Planning documents reveal that conservationists claim the new plans will cause ‘unjustifiable harm’ to the house.
The couple submitted plans to to tear down the conservatory (pictured) at their property and replace it with a new kitchen and sunroom, but the bid has been slammed by conservationists
The star’s plans have been condemned as ‘visually and architecturally intrusive’ by heritage bosses at Historic England, who have recommended that the proposals are redesigned
Sarah Lewis, inspector of historic buildings and areas for Historic England, said: ‘Bollitree Castle forms part of a group of highly graded listed buildings with immense character and much historic and aesthetic value.
‘The proposal to replace the conservatory and erect an extension on the north elevation results in unjustified harm to significance that was avoided by an alternative scheme.
Hammond (pictured) is one of Britain’s most recognised TV presenters fronting Top Gear
‘Historic England recommends that the proposals are reviewed and redesigned to avoid this harm.’
Ms Lewis added in a letter to the council: ‘Historic England considers that the kitchen would result in harm to significance due to its visually and architecturally intrusive form and inappropriate function.
‘These concerns underline the principle issue that externalising a traditionally low-status – and thus discreetly located – function on the garden elevation of the historic house would create an awkward and inappropriate contrast with this building’s traditional layout and character and result in harm to significance.
‘Historic England has concerns regarding the applications on heritage grounds.’
A design statement by Hammond’s architects state that his new plans have the advantage of making the kitchen immediately adjacent to the dining room and hall.
The statement says: ‘The clients’ requirement for kitchen accommodation is modest and as such this element fits in a plan marginally larger than that of the approved sunroom.
‘The main advantage of this is that the approved location for the kitchen extension can be set aside for back of house utility and boot room within the approved footprint, without the need to subdivide or compromise the historic room that is the existing kitchen.’
The couple originally had plans for a kitchen and boot room extension and a new sunroom at the castle (above) approved by Herefordshire Council in 2019, but they have changed the plans
Car nut Hammond is trying to push through his new plans with the help of a report he commissioned from heritage expert Justin Ayton who approves of his proposals.
Mr Ayton, a former historic buildings inspector, says in his report: ‘The current proposals, which represent merely the latest stage in and a perpetuation of the evolution of Bollitree, have been worked on the basis of detailed assessment and understanding of the buildings and their significance.
‘Very little historical fabric would be affected, and no features of interest would be affected.
‘Consequently, this proposal represents the next, benign stage in the evolution of Bollitree, perpetuating the tradition of change that it integral to and has shaped the building’s character and significance.
‘The historic and aesthetic values of the building would be undiminished and thus its special interest preserved and its significance sustained.’
Hammond and his wife Mindy have spent the past 13 years living happily at the castle (above)
Historic England has demanded that the kitchen and utility room plans are redesigned if they are to be approved by the council.
Hammond is one of Britain’s most recognised TV presenters fronting Top Gear and now The Grand Tour on Amazon Prime with Jeremy Clarkson and James May.
He almost died in 2006 when his jet-powered Vampire dragster spun off a runway at 288mph in a Top Gear stunt.
The father-of-two later revealed he experienced depression, paranoia and memory loss due to brain damage suffered.
Hammond got planning consent in 2019 to convert a barn containing his swimming pool ‘to provide space for entertaining guests’ with bedrooms upstairs.
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