VOTE: Should the former home of artist Steven Sykes in Bepton be preserved?

THE OWNER of a former artist’s home is appealing against the refusal to turn a cottage into a four-bedroom house because of its ‘artistic significance’.

The site at Hopkiln, Bepton, was the former home of Steven Sykes, who died in 1999, but turned his home and garden of 30 years into a work of art.

The plans to demolish the existing cottage and part of the barn were met with concern by architecture charity The Twentieth Century Society, which exists to safeguard the heritage of architecture and design in Britain.

A charity spokeswoman wrote to the planning authority, and said because the home was that of a ‘nationally significant artist’ Steven Sykes, the site is a ‘non-designated heritage asset’.

When Mr Sykes died in 1999, The Independent said: “His most magnificent and idiosyncratic creation was his garden at his studio home, Hopkiln, near Midhurst in Sussex, created out of a piece of rough ground he bought in 1967.

“It was a triumph of bricolage and improvisation, incorporating a maze, a grotto, a waterfall and small raised canal, statues and mosaic work.

“To meet him beside his swimming pool, which was embellished with a gold peacock, was to encounter a charming sun worshipper from some ancient lost culture who had taken up unexpected residence in a fold of the South Downs.”

The letter from the architecture society also said he had decorated rooms inside the house including the bathroom with ‘ornate tiles and intricate and impressive designs’ which they had seen in photographs, although they said access to the interiors had been denied to them.

An historic buildings adviser had described the cottage as ‘quirky’, and was very concerned with the site’s history from 1875 as a hop-drying kiln.

The adviser, Ian Wightman, said the site had ‘archeological value’, and the principle of losing the buildings is ‘not acceptable’ and ‘cannot be supported’.

The application was refused by South Downs National Park Authority in July, as ‘the redevelopment will fragment the site and eradicate much of its heritage value, which is of cultural, social and artistic significance’.

An appeal was lodged on behalf of the owner, by agency Tribe Investments Limited in November, but will be heard by a planning inspector on 
February 21.

The hearing will be held at 10.30am at Chichester District Council, East Pallant House, and the public can attend.

The appellant’s written representation for the appeal states their intention to restore and retain the artist’s gardens.

More information on this appeal and the orignal application can be found on the South Downs National Park planning website at planningpublicaccess.southdowns.gov.uk with the reference SDNP/12/00343/FUL.

WHAT DO YOU THINK?

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