Wednesday, 25 November 2020

Banker’s bolthole is a gem

AS futuristic buildings go, this must be one of the more defining examples.

AS futuristic buildings go, this must be one of the more defining examples.

The diamond-shaped house is to be built on an island in the Thames near Henley for banker Toby Cole, son of the actor George Cole, who died last year.

His existing home, where he lives with his wife and three children, will be demolished to make way for the state-of-the-art house designed by Baca Homes, a London company specialising in luxury “dream” properties.

The plans were approved by Wokingham Borough Council, despite a number of objections, and it is hoped that work will begin in the summer.

The new 380sqm house will have seven bedrooms, a playroom, relaxation spaces, a boathouse and, of course, spectacular views of the river.

It will also be flood-proof with a first floor that will be accessed by a bridge from the mainland.

Mr Cole, 44, who is managing director of RBS Global Banking and Markets, has lived on the island for more than 10 years.

He said: “It is an idyllic spot with views not just across the river but also up and down this lively stretch of the Thames. Your view is constantly changing.

“We have lived here for over 10 years, were married nearby and had our wedding reception here, which makes the site a very special place.

“We were faced with a decision to either sell up and move or make the property resilient to flooding, such that this location can be enjoyed for generations to come.

“We experienced two episodes of flooding. Our garden would completely disappear and we would have to have chest waders to get to the front door. Within the house we have experienced up to a foot of water on both occasions and it would take a good 12 months of rebuilding and drying before one could comfortably be back inside again.

“The [new] house is designed to be fully flood resistant and prevent any water getting in. The lower ground floor is lozenge-shaped and orientated to work with the flow of water rather than against it. The flood resistant structure at ground floor will keep the water out during severe flood events for a long period of time.

“In addition, all the key living accommodation has been moved to the first floor, above the one-in-100- years flood level, ensuring all our furniture and appliances will be protected.

“One of the most interesting aspects of the house is that the ground floor does not contain the main living spaces. They are at first floor level.

“We are very excited about the potential views and the comfort that our main accommodation will not be not affected if floods return. We are most looking forward to spending Christmas without the fear of being flooded.”

Remenham Parish Council, the River Thames Society and the Marsh Mills Residents Company all opposed the application.

The borough council noted that the site is in the green belt and designated countryside but said the house design “was considered to accord with local plan policy regarding green belt”.

It said: “While the proposal is of a large scale, it is not considered to have a significantly harmful impact on the character of the area relative to the existing dwelling. Additionally, due to the separation distances to the neighbouring properties, no detrimental impact is considered to occur on residential amenities.”

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