England’s New Rural Mansions
There is one thing that architects in Kent and architects in Sussex will have undoubtedly noticed and this is the appearance of rural mansions. Whether England’s new mansions are adorning the countryside with magnificent architecture or spoiling our natural landscape is a well-debated topic at the moment.
The appearance of these mansions has occurred as a result of little changes in the laws that have clearly not gone unnoticed. Arguably, planning approval for an immense country mansion in Warwickshire is what has largely brought this debate into question. The classical manner has been designed by one of the Prince of Wales’s favourite architects, Robert Adam. Developers have reassured that the project involves the creation of an orchard, ponds, native wildflower meadows and new woodland. Yet, architectural design is subjective, and there are those that have moved forward from these classical designs and deem the mansions to be irrelevant today, amongst other hasher analyses.
This is not a new area of discussion. In 2004 the Planning Policy Statement 7 was refined to ensure that new country houses reflected contemporary architecture of the highest standard, boasting innovative design quality. This amendment came about because an abundance of familiar historic architectural styles cropped up after the policy had been introduced in 1997. Many specialist architects feel that the new rural mansions that are appearing nowadays are merely a reoccurrence of what has already gone before and thus they don’t present anything innovative and genuinely exceptional.
So, why now? Why are we seeing the reappearance of rural mansions in a style of architectural design we are used to? As mentioned, it has a lot to do with changes in legislation that have occurred over the past few years. In fact, it could be something as simple as the change of one word from ‘and’ to ‘or’ that has made all of the difference. Greg Clark, the planning minister, made the tiniest adjustment in the 55th paragraph of the planning guidelines. Now, country houses can be designed so long as they are innovative or outstanding. They no longer need to be both, which is why we are seeing a repetition in design. A good thing or a bad thing? We’ll let you decide.