In North America, Frank Lloyd Wright is considered an architectural deity. On the other side of the Atlantic, however, a fight over the famed architect’s work has divided a peaceful British village.
On one side of the dispute is the very determined Hugh Pratt, a high-voltage electrical engineer and lifelong Wright admirer who has spent more than a decade and an estimated $150,000 trying to build one of the late architect’s original works in Wraxall, a small Somerset village around 130 miles west of London.
In the opposing corner are angry neighbors and members of the local council who believe the stone, glass and concrete house is inappropriate in a rural setting where homes are generally historic. They also point out that the building’s proposed site is within Britain’s Green Belt—open land protected against development to prevent urban sprawl. It is possible to build on the green belt only if it can be shown that the design is “exceptional” and “innovative.”
So far, neither the local council nor a national planning inspector brought in to adjudicate have been convinced the design fits into that category. “I am actually hugely embarrassed,” said Mr. Pratt, 63. “It is like us trying to export Nelson’s Column to America and them slighting it.” ….