Surrey

Sherlock Holmes house plans approved by council

Undershaw Image copyright bbc
Image caption Conan Doyle wrote The Return of Sherlock Holmes and The Hound of the Baskervilles at Undershaw

Revised plans to turn Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's former home in Surrey into a school for children with disabilities have been approved by Waverley council.

Councillors agreed plans for the school last year but committee papers said the new plans included extensions and alterations to the building.

Conan Doyle wrote The Return of Sherlock Holmes and The Hound of the Baskervilles at Undershaw in Hindhead.

Both English Heritage and The Victorian Society have objected to the proposals.

Because English Heritage objected, the decision must now be referred to the Secretary of State.

Plans considered on Wednesday were for alterations to the existing building, the addition of a new two-storey extension and demolition of a 1930s extension.

'Insensitive scheme'

Norman Stromsoy, from nearby Stepping Stones School which wants to use the property as an upper school, said planning consent came with conditions, which were all in hand.

The conditions included protecting features of the building and guaranteeing community use, he said.

He said he hoped campaigners would accept the council's decision because children desperately needed the facilities.

Changes to the building involved providing disabled access, and the scheme would restore the property which had suffered years of neglect, he added.

Image caption The Hound of the Baskervilles was made into a 1968 BBC film starring Nigel Stock and Peter Cushing

James Hughes, conservation advisor at The Victorian Society, said the school scheme was worthy but not sensitive.

He said "damaging removal of historical fabric" was proposed, along with a "wholly alien and intrusive extension".

He said despite the building's dilapidation and use as a hotel, it had retained domesticity, charm and associations with Conan Doyle.

The writer built the property in the Surrey Hills because the air would alleviate his wife's TB and the house was significant because it shed light on his life as a husband, family man, medic and writer, he said.

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