Gardens Trust protects Langton Hall parkland

Langton Hall paddock in the parkland

Action by the Gardens Trust has protected the Grade II registered parkland of Langton Hall in Leicestershire. The Trust was consulted in 2018 on a planning application for an additional free-standing modern house on the estate. After careful consideration, we felt the development would intrude on both the parkland and the setting of the Grade II-listed Hall itself. Therefore we objected to the plans and are relieved to hear that the application has been turned down on appeal.

This intervention was part of the statutory role of the Gardens Trust (GT), which is consulted regarding any proposed development affecting a site included by Historic England on their Register of Parks & Gardens.

Proposed development at Langton Hall

The proposed development site, the paddock (pictured), lies within the Grade II-registered parkland and also forms part of the setting of the Grade II-listed Langton Hall, kitchen garden and stable block. There has been other new development on the estate, but mostly in a cluster around the walled garden area. This latest proposal was sited further away on its own and directly on the northern axis from the Hall. It is an area which may well still reveal below-ground remains of earlier axial garden features, such as avenues or formal gardens, particularly as the ground has not been ploughed.

In addition, a modern house with obtrusive solar panels would not be in keeping with the remaining estate buildings and therefore would harm the character of the parkland. We were also concerned that approval of this application could set a precedent for future development. Therefore, we felt that we had to object to the application. We also pointed out the need to protect the trees in this area of the park and for an archaeological watching brief on this sensitive site.

Outcome of the case

Following our objection, Harborough Council turned down the initial planning application. The applicants appealed the decision, amending their plans and submitting further documents. However, these did not change our view, and we repeated our objection to the development in October 2019. Finally, just before Christmas, we heard that the appeal had been refused by the Planning Inspector. The case officer specifically said that that the impact on the historic character of the registered park was a key consideration in not allowing the appeal. This long process is an example of the painstaking work that our Conservation Officer and CGT volunteers do to help protect historic parks and gardens from unsympathetic development.

The Inspector’s decision stated that the house “would become an intrusive feature that would be at odds with the landscape setting intended for Langton Hall and within which the hall is experienced”. It is heartening that he recognised that this area of open grassland and trees was an important part of the landscaped setting of the Hall, even if not as obviously significant as the formal gardens and avenues to the south. The proposed house would have been well designed and built to the Passive House Plus standard of sustainability, but these merits would not have outweighed the harm caused to the heritage value of Langton Hall. We are delighted that we have been able to protect this important historic parkland.

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Painswick Roccoco Gardens, the Red House, Photo © Joab Smith