Plans to build a modern home at the entrance to an Edwardian villa in Livingston have gone to appeal.
West Lothian Council’s Development Management Committee rejected proposals by Mr W. Graham to build a “chalet style” home at the foot of a driveway which sweeps up to Dechmont House, a villa influenced by the architecture of the Arts and Crafts movement of the early 20th century in Woodlands Park, Deans.
The house was built in 1914 by the Meldrum family, pioneers in the development of the shale oil industry. It replaced a Victorian Gothic “castle” built by one of the first shale oil barons in West Lothian.
Now Mr Graham has appealed to the Scottish Government’s Division of Planning and Environmental Appeals (DPEA) to overturn the council’s ruling.
A government appointed Reporter will look at the proposals and issue a ruling on the case later this year.
Colin Hardie, an agent for Mr Graham told the DMC meeting in June that the planned home would not detract from the historic house.
He added: “Dechmont House has not really had a frontage to Woodlands Park in 40 years.”
He added that the elevation of the house to the street was unelaborate and was “quite plain” . Mr Hardie acknowledged that Dechmont House had a “stellar” southern elevation which overlooked parkland and up to Dechmont Law.
Planning Officer Wendy McCorriston told the June meeting of the DMC that the key impact would be on the surrounding area, the historic building and its amenity.
While Dechmont House is not listed, she said: “it is of architectural merit, and its grounds including its access contribute to its distinct character.”
Mrs McCorriston added: “The area is characterised by large dwellings on generally modest plots. The [planned] house is a smaller house on a small plot which gives the appearance of town cramming, contrary to the residential development guide.”
The Edwardian house replaced Dechmont Castle, a Victorian Gothic building built by Edward Meldrum. His son, Arthur inherited the building at the turn of the 20th century and found it too expensive to run. He had the “castle” demolished and replaced with “moderate-sized country house with four cottages, a garage and stabling”.
Chair of the DMC councillor Stuart Borrowman had backed the planners recommendation for refusal of the new house plan. He told the June meeting which rejected the proposal: “It must be one of the most attractive unlisted dwellings in West Lothian. I can’t think of anything superior to it in that sense.
“The scale of the property and the setting, including the gardens and the wider setting I thought were really impressive. Colin has to do his job professionally, and I understand that he has to advocate for his client but I do think this would be poor town planning were we to allow this. I’d be mindful to support any position to refuse this consent.”
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