Hollywood star Tilda Swinton battles locals over plans for Scottish home

Actress Tilda Swinton. (AP Photo/Lee Jin-man)
Actress Tilda Swinton. (AP Photo/Lee Jin-man)
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Hollywood star Tilda Swinton is facing a battle with locals and heritage groups over plans to refurbish her Highland home.

The Oscar-winning actress wants to build a new kitchen, dining area and dog room at the rear of her B-listed property in Nairn.

However, the proposed renovation was described as “brutal” and “brash” by opponents after plans were submitted.

They said the new extension would spoil the character of the 113-year-old building with one resident claiming it could even effect the value of homes in the area.

Historic Environment Scotland (HES) and The Architectural Heritage Society of Scotland have also raised concerns about the scheme.

Miss Swinton has withdrawn her original planning application to Highland Council and is considering submitting revised proposals.

She said she was now having “productive” discussions with neighbours before pressing ahead with her house plans.

The 58-year-old Michael Clayton and Doctor Strange star shares the home with her partner Sandro Kopp, a German painter, and her 21-year-old twins Honor and Xavier, whose father is the Scots artist John Byrne.

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Her original proposals were to demolish an existing garage extension and outbuildings at her home to create the new kitchen and dining area and a room for her pets. Her plans also included a new ‘snug’ room, a wet room, a pantry and a terrace.

Documents submitted by her planning agent stated Miss Swinton was embarking on a renovation programme as she was committed to the house being her “long term sole family home”.

They stated: “My client’s brief was to increase the size of the kitchen and dining areas, while catering to the requirements of a large family home, where the different habitation areas allow for a natural flow of children, dogs and entertaining friends.

“The new extension gives a contempary, clean, defined appearance which enhances without detracting from the original building and replaces a substandard garage extension with a carefully considered and sympathetic addition which would greatly contribute to the function of this much loved and painstakingly restored family home.”

However, local residents contacted the local authority to express their dismay at the plans.

In a letter to Highland Council, Ian Maxwell said: “I am concerned that the design of the extension on the north-east would have a marked and dominant impact on the more public elevations.

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“I feel that the height of this extension, reaching to the gutter level of the house, is too dominant in relation to the house and the design of the second storey is not in keeping with the character of the house. This proposal would be visually very strong and quite brutal.”

He also said materials proposed for the building work could “look brash and would not be entirely in keeping with adjacent walls of the existing building”.

Another resident, John Brown, said the design would “demean” the look of the building and claimed it was a “totally unsuitable alteration”.

HES recommended that the plans be revised and suggested a smaller extension would be more appropriate.

They said: “Our view is that the proposals would detract significantly from the overall character, particularly because of the impact on the entrance (north) elevation, and we would strongly encourage revisions to address the impacts.

“Our view is that the proposed double-height utility/wet-room addition would be an incongruous addition to this house, and that its height and position on the north elevation, together with the form of the roof, the blocking of a window and the loss of the curved screen wall and gatepier would result in a very significant loss of character to this house.”

A spokesman for Miss Swinton said: “There is a suggestion that a disintegrating garage adjacent to Tilda’s house be replaced with an integrated structure, following a pretty much identical footprint.

“The family is in a productive discussion with neighbouring families - as is customary with such cases - to develop the detail of this build.

“Naturally, all constructive contribution is extremely welcome and informative for any revised plans that might go forward.”