I WAS extremely interested to see the New Blackmore Vale’s feature on Newell House – the Grade II listed building in Sherborne – which also has an ancient barn at the back.
I raised concern about the state of this splendid house with West Dorset Council some years ago and received an assurance that it was under review – but as far as I was aware no action seemed to be taken.
A subsequent contact with those responsible for heritage issues at Dorset Council received a response which indicated that a re-structuring of the department precluded any action at that time – and then, of course, there was Covid-19, which also inhibited any follow-up.
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As the years went by the ivy continued to grow up over the house and signs of vegetation sprouting from the gutters were all too apparent.
Naturally, one is very cautious about intruding on the private decision-making of any house owner, but in this case the building is not only of great historic merit, but a significant feature of Sherborne’s townscape being the prominent feature at the Marston Road junction with the A30.
READ MORE: Campaigners call for action over Newell House in Sherborne
As the Sherborne group of the Campaign for the Protection of Rural England pointed out a few years ago in its critical review: “Sherborne a great place to live – but not quite perfect.” The council should be exploring “ways in which it – Newell House – can fulfil its potential as one of the town’s more historic buildings”.
Dorset Council has a statutory role in relation to heritage buildings of this quality – so why is it so reluctant to act?