Foster + Partners has won outline planning permission for a divisive £130 million car museum in the Cotswolds countryside
West Oxfordshire District Council’s Planning Committee backed the creation of the Mullin Automotive Park at Enstone Airfield in line with planning officer recommendation.
The scheme includes a 6,000m2 museum building along with 28 holiday homes, a corporate entertainment pavilion and a demonstration road and other facilities.
Public consultation over the scheme saw opinions split, with more than 200 letters of support almost matched by 180 objections. A number of parish councils condemned the impact the project would have on local infrastructure, while Thames Valley Police warned it could be ‘problematic in crime prevention design terms’.
A decision on the application – backed by US businessman and philanthropist Peter Mullin – was deferred in March as councillors sought clarifications.
In their latest report, planning officers concluded that the scheme was ‘essentially a tourism redevelopment’ of a brownfield site that had been blighted by its use during the Second World War.
They said there were ‘no technical objections from consultees’ and insisted any harm remaining could be mitigated by conditions.
Planners said the residential lodges were ‘the most problematic’ element of the non-core functions as planning policy regarding homes isolated from settlements was ‘generally restrictive’.
But conditions requiring lodge owners to provide exhibits for the museum meant ‘sufficient integration has been demonstrated that they can be considered as … an essential element of the principal use and … their presence on site has been justified’, said the report.
Fosters head of studio Gerard Evenden said he was ‘delighted’ the proposals for the ‘countryside cultural destination’ had ’cleared the first round of planning permission’. He added: ‘[The] project will support the wider community as well as providing a special experience for classic automobile collectors. We look forward to commencing detailed design for the next stage of planning.’
The museum aims to chart the history of automobiles over the last hundred years as well as keeping up with the changing face of mobility in the future.
Mullin said: ‘I don’t regard myself as a collector of wonderful classic cars, but more as a custodian of a collection I want to make available in a public forum well beyond my lifetime.
‘My philosophy has always been to assist with education and innovation, and to illuminate the past for the benefit of the future. The impact of the automobile on our modern way of life deserves to be recorded in the most imaginative, educational and absorbing way possible.’
Foster + Partners’ approved Mullin Automotive Park