New plans to redevelop home of celebrated Shropshire novelist Mary Webb

Fresh development plans for the former home of one of Shropshire’s most famous writers have been drawn up after controversial proposals to knock it down were rejected.

Spring Cottage in Lyth Hill
Spring Cottage in Lyth Hill

It is the third time the owners of Spring Cottage in Lyth Hill, near Shrewsbury, have applied to Shropshire Council for planning permission to demolish the house, the original part of which was built and lived in by romantic novelist Mary Webb.

While the authority said the cottage was not a heritage asset, the previous applications in 2013 and 2015 were refused on the grounds that the proposals were out of keeping with the area. Both refusals were backed by the planning inspectorate on appeal.

Bust of Mary Webb

The latest plans include a pledge from the homeowners, Joe and Annette Kwaterski, to retain the part of the cottage built for Webb and her husband Henry, with the proposed new build to be constructed on a different part of the site.

A heritage impact assessment has been prepared by historic buildings consultant Richard Morris to accompany the application, and concludes that “only parts of the shell of the original Spring Cottage built for Mary Webb in 1917 survive in the much-altered and much-extended dwelling”.

Demolition

The extent of the original home is not yet known, but will be agreed by contractors and council officers before or during the demolition.

The heritage statement adds: “The reasons for the refusal of a replacement building in the recent past have not concluded that the remnants of the original part of the property are of any consequence in planning terms.

“However, the fact that the present developing proposals would retain and partly restore the original cottage as an ancillary structure within the redeveloped site is to be welcomed, especially given local sensitivities.”

A design and access statement by the couple’s agent, Les Stephan Planning Ltd, says the applicants “are willing to enter into future dialogue with the Mary Webb Society regarding access to the remains of the original cottage”.

The application, which has so far attracted 11 objections from members of the public, will be decided by Shropshire Council.

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