Wentworth couple’s plan for dream home - which courted interest from hit TV show Grand Designs - approved despite opposition

An artist's impression of the house in Wentworth

An artist's impression of the house in Wentworth - Credit: Archant

A Wentworth couple’s plan for a “groundbreaking” new home on the outskirts of the village was backed by councillors on Wednesday, despite a large number of objections from neighbours.

Planning officers had called for Barry and Maurine Woodbine’s plans to be thrown out and neighbours of the site had expressed concern over development outside the village envelope but councillors disagreed and, on Wednesday, gave the green light.

Mr and Mrs Woodbine, who have lived in Wentworth for more than 30 years, applied to East Cambridgeshire District Council last year to downsize from their home in Main Street into a purpose-built retirement home.

Architects acting for the couple came up with “innovative” plans to help devise a carbon neutral home that, they claimed, was entirely self-sufficient for power and would be the only genuinely carbon neutral home in the district.

When the plans were submitted to East Cambridgeshire District Council, agents described the design as “truly outstanding”, adding that Channel 4’s popular series Grand Designs had expressed an interest in following its development.


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As well as an array of solar panels to heat water, all rooms were to have windows facing south and special heat exchange technology would ensure everything down to body heat was captured and re-used.

But council officers were not impressed and said that the house was “not considered to be of sufficient architectural quality”, adding that it was “neither ‘truly outstanding’ nor ‘innovative’”.

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At Wednesday’s meeting of the planning committee, officers recommended councillors refuse the application on the grounds that it was outside of the village development envelope.

And district councillor for Wentworth, Ian Allen, also weighed into the debate, saying the plans should be refused because of the weight of opinion against the proposal that existed in the village.

But former council leader Peter Moakes said he was “impressed” by the plans and recommended them for approval.

Cllr Robert Stevens added: “I think we have here a genuine attempt to do something outstanding and innovative. I think this really does warrant support.”

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