A plan for a futuristic six-bedroom mansion built partly into a Herefordshire hillside has been narrowly rejected by councillors – again.

The county’s planning committee has been asked to reconsider the plan submitted by a local couple for the Flow House, near the village of Ullingswick between Bromyard and Hereford, which has been many years in preparation.

With a heating and power system described as the first of its kind in the UK, it was to be largely self-sufficient in power, while plans for the grounds included a new traditional perry pear orchard.


Free-standing new homes in open countryside, as this would be, are ordinarily permitted under national planning rules only if they meet one of several criteria – in this case, that they demonstrate “outstanding design”.

In September 2021 committee members went against their own officer’s recommendation and refused the application, on the grounds that the design was not outstanding enough and would harm the surrounding landscape.

But a revised application has come back to them, complete with a new detailed report by Design:Midlands an independent design review panel, which “confirms that the design is outstanding”, according to an officer’s report for the meeting which again recommended approval.

Want to stay up to date with all the latest Bromyard news? It's easy, just sign up for our free weekly email newsletter here and all the important stories that matter to you will be delivered straight to your inbox.

Committee member Coun Jeremy Milln questioned whether it was “sufficient simply to assert that it is of exceptional design”, given that a different experts’ report submitted with the previous attempt “had misgivings and were extremely lukewarm about it”.

Coun Sebastian Bowen, also on the committee, said: “Mr Albert Speer might have been interested in this building and would probably have given it approval,” a reference to Nazi Germany’s foremost architect.

Local ward member Coun Jonathan Lester remained opposed, saying: “It’s modern design would be in stark contrast to the largely unchanged nineteenth-century buildings of Ullingswick nearby.”

The council’s conservation officer had not objected to the plan, saying large isolated house within a designed landscape would be “not uncharacteristic”, and “can be compared to the large estates constructed by landed gentry and aristocracy throughout history”.

But Coun Lester said on this: “Times have moved on, and new housing should be proportionate to housing need.”

Coun Penny Andrews of the committee said: “If we open the floodgates, we will have more of them.” But Coun Mark Millmore said: “I know it’s subjective, but I can’t see how we can refuse it.”

Proposing it be approved, committee member Coun John Hardwick said: “It would fit in exceptionally well, the landscape will benefit the area, and I note the parish council now supports it.”

But his proposal was rejected by seven votes to six, the reasons given being that it would indeed not be of “outstanding design” given its scale and likely harm to the landscape.