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Cathedral objects to Arundells plan
SALISBURY Cathedral has lodged a last minute objection to the re-opening of Arundells.
The Cathedral Close home of former Prime Minister Sir Edward Heath could open to the public within weeks if planning permission is granted, and Wiltshire Council has received 144 letters in support of the move.
But now representatives of the cathedral have added its weight to the nine objectors to the scheme, its objection letter being registered with the council on February 17, eight days after the end of the consultation period.
Its objection letter states the application could damage the character of the Close by “reinforcing the element of commerciality”, and create additional visitor pressure, “negatively affecting and disrupting residents.”
The cathedral itself receives about 300,000 visitors a year.
Tony Burnside from pressure group the Friends of Arundells said: “It is most unfortunate that the cathedral has attempted to torpedo this planning application at the last moment.
“We had hoped to work closely with the cathedral to promote music scholarships and many workers and visitors to the cathedral will be dismayed by this action.”
The Georgian mansion was opened to the public following Sir Edward’s death in 2005 and houses significant works of art as well as memorabilia relating to his life and his interest in sailing and music.
But it has been at the centre of a heated disagreement since its trustees announced in February 2010 they planned to sell it for £6million and to channel the money into supporting Sir Edward’s other charitable interests.
After a long battle spearheaded by the Friends of Arundells, the Charity Commission announced in September last year that it would not grant permission for the sale until other options had been explored.
The trustees have now applied for temporary permission to open it to the public from March to November for a further three years to allow time for a business plan addressing the longer-term financial viability to be prepared.
Wiltshire councillors are due to make a decision on the application before March 1 and a further planning application is expected to be made later this year for permission to hold events such as weddings and concerts at the property.
A spokesman for the cathedral said: “The Cathedral Close is predominantly residential with a living community at its heart and this is something that Chapter wishes to preserve.
"It is proud of the heritage associated with No 59 The Close and is pleased that a blue plaque was unveiled recently to celebrate Sir Edward Heath’s time as part of the Close community.
“Chapter was happy to support the original temporary change of use in deference to its previous owner and his wishes and in the belief that this was to be a limited provision.
“However, it is not comfortable with a move towards a more permanent change from residential use which this second application might suggest.”