Harry Potter author JK Rowling wins fight to build £250,000 tree houses in garden
HARRY Potter author JK Rowling today won a battle to build two luxury tree houses in the garden of her home despite protests from local residents.
• Giant houses for her children approved despite neighbours’ objections
• Claims structures would blight the appearance of the area
The writer had applied to have the massive structures, estimated to cost £250,000, erected as part of a programme of renovations at her house in Edinburgh.
They are intended to be used by her son David, nine, and his younger sister Mackenzie, seven, who will each get their own two storey house, almost 40ft high, which feature secret tunnels and bay windows.
After the plans were submitted with Edinburgh City Council last month, objections were lodged by people who live nearby.
They raised concerns that the large size of the tree houses meant they could be seen from the roadside and said they would blight the appearance of the surrounding conservation area.
However, planning officials have now given the green light to the project allowing builders to get to work.
John Bury, the council’s head of planning and building standards, said: “The proposals comply with the development plan and will not adversely impact on the character and appearance of the conservation area.”
Members of Cramond and Barnton community council had appealed to the council to reject Ms Rowling’s plans because they claimed a gap in a line of trees in her garden mean the tree houses will be visible to passers-by
In a letter, the organisation’s secretary Dr Patricia Eason said: “The community council does have serious concerns about this proposed tree house development.
“Presently the tree house development will be screened from the roadway by the line of tall conifer trees.
“That is except for the view now apparent through the gap just formed by the applicant where some three or four trees have been removed.
“Our concern is without this high and substantial screening belt of conifers, the entrance to the conservation area would be marked by this massive and very high tree house development and this would be quite out of character with the area and unacceptable.”
Ms Rowling’s neighbour Tom Borthwick, 66, also raised concerns about the size and safety of the tree houses and sought assurances they could not be viewed from outside the property.
He added: “I am not fundamentally against allowing anyone to erect such structures in their own private property, albeit they may be considered disproportionate in size to that property and the area in general.
“However, I do object if such buildings have a visual impact on the surrounding area and properties and conflict with existing planning policies, particularly in a conservation area.”
The two tree houses are to be linked with a rope bridge, and David will be able to make a quick escape from his using a specially built trap door and fireman’s pole.
Mackenzie can use a spiral staircase or stainless steel slide to leave her tree house.
Drawings show one of the houses features a perch for what appears to be an owl and a “nature box” built into the cedar shingle covered roof for birds to nest in.
They are to be built using sustainable timber by Blue Forest, a firm based in Tunbridge Wells, Kent, which describes itself as the UK’s leading tree house architects.
Prices start at £20,000 for its most basic models, but the firm admits “the sky is the limit” for the final bill when it creates bespoke tree houses for the super rich.
Last year, Ms Rowling, reportedly worth £560million, was granted planning permission to flatten a £1million 1970s - style house she bought next door to her own home to enlarge her garden.
Ms Rowling, 46, bought her 17th century, 33 room mansion for just over £2million two and a half years ago.
She lives there with her husband, Dr Neil Murray, their two young children and her 19 year old daughter, Jessica, from her first marriage.
The application did not go before councillors on the local authority’s planning committee. It was decided via a “delegated decision” by the planning department as less than six objections were received.
A spokesman for Ms Rowling refused to comment.
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Friday 24 May 2013
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