Reprinted from Newsletter 129, dated 2009 August

A third tale: no, yes, eventual award?

Jim Nagel

A tale similar to the two above could soon be told about Keith Taylor. He wants to build three striking eco-houses, all with four bedrooms and gardens plus solar panels and heat-exchangers, on land he owns adjacent to the Abbey wall—the site of the former Clarks printing works at 3A Magdalene Street.

Planning officers recommended refusal. They cited government guidelines wanting higher-density housing and suggested Mr Taylor should build nine two-bedroom units—for which planning permission already existed. (A previous owner went out of business before starting to build them.)

“Glastonbury is already saturated with two-bedroom flats crammed into tiny sites. I think they’re using us as a dumping ground,” Mr Taylor said. “I must be the only builder in history that wants to put less on a site, not more. I wanted these houses, on this site beside the Abbey, to make a statement.”

The application went before a committee of councillors. They approved it on July 22, with conditions about insulation and exterior materials.

The houses will use timber panels constructed in Cornwall and then erected quickly in Glastonbury as a weatherproof shell for interior work to continue. “Each house will have such insulation properties that you can run it for practically nothing. That’s one of my reasons for doing this project: it will be totally eco-friendly,” Mr Taylor said.

Keith and Julia Taylor have lived in Glastonbury for six years. Their current home is Naish House in Magdalene Street, the Regency house which he restored in 2008. The former Priory House was built before 1825 for Sarah and Anna Greenhill Naish, who used the Abbot’s Kitchen (owned by their brother, the attorney William Benjamin Naish). From 1903 the house was the St Louis convent and then part of Millfield’s pre-prep school. Mr Taylor reconverted it to two large dwellings: Naish House at the front and Greenhill House behind, with its grand ballroom. [Newsletters 123, 125.] This project won him the Mendip Built in Quality award this year for the best domestic conversion in Mendip. Will his three new houses across the street, rejected and now approved, eventually win another award?