New hope for Parnham House in Beaminster

Photo by Dorset and Wiltshire Fire and Rescue Service

THERE are hopes that Parnham House will be restored as a planning application for the historic building has been submitted.

The 16th century Grade II* listed building in Beaminster was devastated by a fire in April.

Michael and Emma Treichl, who took over the property in 2001 after John Makepeace’s furniture school moved, vowed to rebuild the home after the arson attack, but suspicion surrounding how the fire started saw Mr Treichl being questioned by police and released under investigation.

However, Mr Treichl committed suicide shortly after in June, leaving behind his wife and children, and the future of the stately home unknown.

But a planning application for the installation of a temporary spiral staircase at the home’s staff accommodation building, to provide access to the first floor in order to assess damage, has been submitted to West Dorset District Council.

The design and access statement, which has been provided by architects Purcell UK on behalf of the applicant, states: “Following the devastating fire in April, emergency works are required to provide access to the first floor level of the northern staff accommodation wing, where the existing stair access has been lost as a result of the fire.

“Temporary vertical access is required to bring this area into beneficial use whilst repair works are undertaken at the property.

“Much of the external core structures still stand, however, almost entirely all the internal fabric has been lost and is the subject of repair, which this application refers to.”

It adds: “The stair will be positioned on an existing modern concrete slab, however, a new opening will be required in the ceiling to the area directly above. This will involve the removal of historic floor joists and floorboards.

“Any historic fabric that is removed is to be documented, carefully stored and retained for the duration of the restoration works.

“The temporary stair will then be removed following completion of the works with reinstatement of the retained building fabric.”

The document concludes: “The extent of the smoke and fire damage cannot be fully assessed in this area until further investigation has taken place.

“Safe access is paramount to ensuring that the historic buildings are carefully conserved and repaired.

“The siting of the stair has been carefully considered and it is felt that the approach is the least intrusive.

“Parnham House is a building of high significance and the proposal seeks to ensure that the repair following the fire can be considerately and safely achieved.”

The application was brought to Beaminster Town Council’s planning meeting on Monday, where councillors recommended approval.

Cllr Chris Turner said: “I think the good thing about this is that the tone coming out of this, especially in the design and access statement, does suggest that they are intent on rebuilding at some stage.

“If they are intent on rebuilding it, even though it will be a 21st century replica, I think that is a good thing.”

The application can be found at using number WD/D/17/001527. Comments are being accepted until August 27th.

Bridport & Beaminster Reporter| Lottie is currently studying for an NCTJ Diploma in Journalism through a distance learning course and joined the paper in April 2014 on a freelance basis, becoming a staff reporter in January 2015. She is now the reporter for the View From Bridport and View From Beaminster papers.