Building Better – Building Beautiful

(Building the Burrington way! – Owl)

From a correspondent:

The above Winslade Manor in Clyst St Mary is a substantial mansion that has recently been very sensitively re-developed by Burrington Estates to now include Winslade Manor Restaurant and Bar, Number 6 personal training and wellness studio and office accommodation.

The architecture of this building with its architraves, pediments, balustrades, quoins, sash windows, porticos and Doric columns under a slate hipped roof continues to evoke an admiration and appreciation today in 2021, even after so many centuries have elapsed. Burrington Estates have successfully returned this Grade II* Listed Georgian Manor to its former glory, when it was built by Edward Cotsford, the High Sheriff of Devon around 1800 and this renovation deserves accolades and commendation.

210110 Presentation 08 Near neighbour presentation.pdf – OneDrive (

The above link shows Burringtons design proposals for their two new housing areas in Zone A and Zone D at Winslade Park, Clyst St Mary, which are soon to be submitted to East Devon District Council for a decision. Again the plans submitted for the Zone A housing on green fields at the entrance to Winslade Park show creative, low-density, high-quality innovative designs that many will find attractive and appealing.

However, displayed on the very final two pages of this housing design presentation link on Pages 71 and 72 (which appears as a hurriedly-prepared afterthought to achieve high-density volume home-building in a restricted brownfield car park area) are 40 four-storey apartments!

Many would consider such high-density towering structures in a rural, historic village, overlooking existing homes and sited in close proximity directly opposite the valued majestic northern façade of the historic Winslade Manor, to be completely inappropriate.

Tall four-storey block structures are more usual in urban areas (like Exeter City) to provide significant numbers of homes in a metropolis but not in a rural community that has no local housing need.

The three four-storey brick-blocked structures totalling 40 apartments are considered by many to be totally incongruous in this setting and fail to reflect distinguished, prestigious standards in architecture in the immediate setting of a valued, historic asset and they conflict with recommendations by Government to enhance our communities.

Many believe that homebuilders in the 2020s should show an ethical responsibility to improve areas and not return to the low-cost brick three-five storied apartment building styles which were developed in the Soviet Union during the 1960s and have thankfully mostly been demolished and replaced.

This is an opportunity for the creation of a truly outstanding build back better brownfield design standard that could be revered as an esteemed design guide for future admiration that will stand the test of time – but these design proposals for Zone D fail to reach that objective.

Architectural designs are creative and are, therefore, vulnerable to personal, differing opinions but surely  this historic site requires imaginative high-quality style and a venerable discernment to compliment the Georgian Manor? Many find these current Zone D proposals an overdevelopment in this rural village with the designs being too utilitarian and failing to achieve aesthetic, quality, harmonious standards. Designs must not overpower, clash and be incompatible with the historic Manor and its surroundings.

The Building Better, Building Beautiful Commission advised the Government to promote and increase the use of high-quality styles and designs for new build homes and neighbourhoods to reflect what communities want by  building on the knowledge and tradition of what works for their area – but do 40 four-storey blocks of apartments opposite an historic Manor House in a rural community reach those aspirations?

In the past the advice would have been to ‘return to the drawing-board’ but in this age of digital technology, it would not seem too onerous to search for a more sympathetic computer-generated design for this valued location which surely deserves so much better?