Dyson can build art gallery near Chipping Sodbury
PLANS by billionaire businessman Sir James Dyson to open an art gallery at his home near Chipping Sodbury have been approved.
The inventor of the bagless vacuum cleaner and his wife Lady Deirdre Dyson asked for planning permission to build the gallery at their Dodington Park estate to display some of their art collection, which is reported to contain works by David Hockney, Picasso, Roy Lichtenstein and Andy Warhol.
Neighbouring residents raised concerns about the effect of visitor traffic on nearby narrow country lanes.
But the scheme has been approved by South Gloucestershire Council, whose leader threw his own support behind it, writing a letter to the planning department urging its approval.
The gallery would be open to the public for 28 days a year.
The Dysons' architects Wilkinson Eyre told planners: "After spending many years restoring Dodington, Sir James and Lady Deirdre Dyson would like to re-open the Walled Garden to the public and share their collection of art and sculptures with the community and visitors."
They said the art gallery represented "a generous philanthropic gift for the enjoyment of the public, adding: "This collection would not otherwise be accessible. This is a true gift to society and one which comes at no expense to the public purse."
The architects designed a bronze and glass building with a 'green' roof.
Some 13 neighbours raised objections to the plans, citing traffic issues in nearby Catchpot Lane and Chapel Lane, saying single track roads used daily by walkers, horse riders, dog walkers, cyclists and runners were not suitable.
But a suggestion for an alternative route to the gallery using the estate's main entrance on to the A46 was rejected by the applicants.
The application was given approval by council officers in April using delegated powers, which means it did not go before a committee.
A council spokesperson said that because of the number of objections raised, the application was circulated to local councillors, giving them five days to ask for a committee to consider the plans, but in this case no councillors asked for it to be 'called in'.
Dodington Parish Council and Sodbury Town Council both made no objection.
South Gloucestershire Council leader Toby Savage wrote to the planning department to support the application.
In his letter, Mr Savage said that although the district had a lot to offer tourists, at present it was "not currently home to any art galleries".
He said: "If this application were to be approved, it would be the first of its kind in the district and, while it would be privately owned, it would be a very exciting string to the bow of local tourism in South Gloucestershire, providing access to the applicants’ private collection of art and sculptures, as well as re-opening the walled garden of the marvellous Dodington Estate to the public."
Mr Savage said the design of the gallery looked "tremendous" but said he hoped it would be able to open for more than 28 days a year "further down the line".
He added: "In the meantime, outside the 28 days the gallery intends to open, I would hope to see some collaboration between the applicants and the council to maximise the accessibility of the collection going on show, potentially including touring pieces around other local venues within our communities or establishing pop-up art galleries."