Artist fights to demolish illegal studio in field

An artist is appealing an order to illegally demolish the studio he built in the countryside.

Clive Hemsley, of Hart Street, Henley, says the three-story building on his land near Rotherfield Grays is not much larger than the one he had previously proposed, which was approved by the South Oxfordshire District Council, planning authority, in 2017.

But an investigation learned Tuesday that the development at Grays Meadow was “materially different” from what had been approved and was more important than what was proposed in Mr Hemsley’s application.

Juan Lopez, for the board, told planning inspector Justina Moss that the building was also in a slightly different position than it was intended.

He said: “The council had granted a building permit for an art studio for private use only. What has been approved is very different from what has been built and where – on an extremely sensitive site. “

The council was also concerned that the studio would be used for art classes or as a gallery or as residential accommodation, he said.

Mr Hemsley, whose current home is on the market for £ 4.75million, has denied plans to live in the studio.

Gavin Collett, speaking on his behalf, told the hearing: “We know there are issues with the size of the building and its potential use for commercial purposes.

“Mr. Hemsley is a man who paints and some of his paintings are then sold in art galleries – does that make them for commercial use? We believe that the use could be conditioned and that no commercial activity or commercial sale will then be allowed in the field.

Mr Collett said Mr Hemsley had been involved with Sue Ryder for several years and offered art lessons to the studio’s hospice patients.

He added, “If the board thinks this is not a suitable use for the studio, then it won’t be allowed to teach them how to paint like it has done in the past.

“If the board doesn’t want that to happen, it won’t be a problem because the use of the land was meant to be for them.

“It seems to me that the council took against this building. What has been done inside the building has no impact on the outside of it. What concerns the council is the landscape and the surroundings.

Mr. Hemsley had consented to a small private facility despite opposition from neighbors and parish councilors.

Opponents said it would not fit the rural environment and would have an “urbanizing” effect on the Chilterns Area of ​​Outstanding Natural Beauty.

The National Trust, owner of the land used to access the site, also objected.

Once the studio was completed, an execution investigation was launched by the council.

Officers concluded that Mr Hemsley had “undertaken significant landscaping work around the building and elsewhere on the site, which is contrary to the site’s approved landscaping plan.”

The council said the building was illegal and had to be destroyed, then denied a retrospective request. Mr. Hemsley then appealed.

He first got permission to convert a stable into an art studio with shops.

In 2017, he obtained the authorization to install a new structure. It would be a wooden building with an area of ​​81 m² including 100 m² of floor space with a basement of 24 m².

But the current building is 102m² with 237m² of floor space over three floors, including a larger than expected porch.

It consists of a studio on the ground floor opening onto a lower patio and a level garden, and galleries on the two upper floors with a kitchen and three toilets.

The council was also unhappy with a mound of earth from an excavation, which has since been flattened, an additional storage building and a number of outdoor sculptures.

A letterbox and a sign were also installed without consent.

Mr. Hemsley has had planning conflicts in the past.

In 2017, he installed a 26-foot “green wall” of plants to combat air pollution on the east wall of his house without permission.

He also attached two strings of LED lights to each side of the Henley Bridge without permission.

He withdrew them after a retrospective claim was rejected.

The investigation was due to end today (Friday).

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