I'm being forced to rip down £1m end-of-life care centre as it was built just 13 metres in wrong place – it's outrageous | The Sun
AN artist is furious with council chiefs for wanting to tear down a £1million studio for disabled and end-of-life patients.
Clive Hemsley, 71, said he was told the eco building had to go after being put 13 metres in the wrong place.
An olive tree on a base and an old tree trunk also have to be axed because they are classed as sculptures.
He began building the green oak barn studio in Henley-on-Thames, Oxfordshire, in 2018 to help terminally ill and disabled people.
Clive, who has painted thousands of dogs and cats, told The Sun: "I wanted to help them create a legacy for their loved ones.
"It seemed like a good idea but the council won't talk to me about it."
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But the council insisted the finished build had "no resemblance" to the approved plans, saying it was also much bigger than permitted, and ordered it to be demolished within a year.
A court hearing earlier this month ruled that the building was 13metres north of the approved planning site on a 1.25acre plot of an area of outstanding natural beauty.
And council officials, who gave permission for a private studio, objected to it being used by anyone other than Clive.
He said he sent hundreds of emails, some of which were shown to The Sun, explaining his plans for the conversion but got no response.
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And he insisted the definition of a private art studio is as a workroom for multiple people.
He added: “It’s all got out of hand. It's very frustrating.
"The communication between myself and the council has been non-existent.
“I have written them more than one hundred emails and kept them in touch every month for two and a half years with no response other than enforcement notices.
“It’s not even a new idea. I was talking about this idea 12 years ago with a friend who was a creative who has died now. His son told me the studio would have been perfect.”
He first applied for permission in 2016 but neighbours objected.
He then submitted a new planning application in 2017 for a green oak eco barn and was granted permission for a wooden-clad building.
The actual building was slightly bigger than approved. Mr Hemsley insisted it was not much bigger but planning officers said it was "significant".
And he said the studio was moved slightly when builders realised early on into construction that there were two underground streams.
A building inspector, who he did not realise was separate from the planning inspector, advised it be moved slightly in order to avoid disrupting the water course, he said.
At the same time he was contacted by local hospices asking whether he would provide informal tuition for end-of-life patients and local residents who needed quiet art therapy.
He insisted he told the council of this several times with no response, adding: “I can’t think of anything more worthwhile then helping a terminally ill patient create a piece of artwork for their love ones as a legacy.
"I have made it clear I don’t want to teach dozens of youngsters.
"I don’t want dozens of people. I want 3/4 max end of life patients to give art therapy and help create art pieces as legacy."
A spokeswoman for South Oxfordshire District Council said: “In 2016 we granted planning permission for Mr Hemsley to change the use of a former stable building so it could become an art studio for private use.
"Further permissions were given in 2017 for the stable to be demolished, and a new purpose-built art studio to be constructed.
“Mr Hemsley was to ensure that there was no commercial use of the land and the Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty was protected.
“As a local planning authority, it is our duty to ensure developments are in line with the latest planning guidance and policy and the details of any planning permission we have granted.
“We assessed the new building and concluded that it had no resemblance to any of the approved planning applications and as a result ordered the building to be demolished within the next 12 months.
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“An independent Planning Inspector agreed with our decision, concluding that the building was harmful to the landscape and scenic beauty of the Chilterns AONB, was in an unsustainable location and that it was contrary to highway safety.
"It is therefore unsuitable for use by the public at large.”
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