Ambitious new plans for a UK version of the Mullin Automotive Museum have been submitted after the initial designs were withdrawn following multiple objections.
Peter Mullin, owner of the famed Mullin Automotive Museum in Oxnard, California, first applied for planning permission for a hotel-and-museum complex in November 2017.
The facility was to be called The Mullin at Great Tew and was due to consist of a £150 million development on a brownfield site near Chipping Norton in West Oxfordshire, complete with museum, demonstration track, pavilion and 28 holiday lodges.
Many enthusiasts were hugely excited by the proposal, which would have seen up to 200 classic cars housed at the museum.
However more than 250 objections were made, many of them by locals living near to the proposed site, and the first application was withdrawn in September.
Now, though, new designs have been drawn up by world-famous architect Norman Foster’s Foster + Partners firm and submitted to West Oxfordshire District Council.
The Mullin Automotive Park, as it now called, will be 15% smaller than the previous complex, although it will still feature a main museum building plus 28 residential lodges. Sixteen of those lodges will be adjacent to the museum, thus enabling visitors to display their cars alongside the rest of the collection.
The proposals also include a £1.7million local investment in housing, a new car park for a primary school and ‘environmental improvements’ at the nearby Enstone and Middle Barton.
The original designs for the lodges were among the more controversial aspects of the first set of plans, and the new plans state that they will exist below the treeline, and will ‘immerse the occupant into the natural setting, rather than protrude above it’.
Overall, the architects say that the development is designed to be ‘analogous to the traditional country estate’, with ‘its entrance lodge and journey through a carefully considered landscape towards the main house, forming part of the overall experience to all visitors’.
There is now no specific mention of a demonstration track, although the plans do describe a ‘tree-lined exercise road’ that ‘provides the opportunity for the classic cars to be gently exercised as part of their maintenance regime, and simultaneously for enthusiasts to watch on from various points around the site’.
In a personal letter accompanying the plans, Mullin reaffirmed his desire to bring the ‘world class automotive museum’ to the UK, and assured planners – and by extension, the development's opponents – that he has addressed the previous concerns.
‘My team and I have taken very seriously the genuine concerns of both your department and the local communities,’ he writes, before explaining that he asked ‘Britain's greatest living architect’ Lord Norman Foster + Partners ‘to design a new scheme that blends the commercial, cultural and residential spaces in a unique way’.
He goes on to state that, ‘My aim is always to illuminate, innovate and educate. My particular passion for the automobile, is not only about top speed or horse power, but about the extraordinary impact that the car has had on mankind; the mobility, the ingenious design, the engineering and the beauty of art in motion.’
The Mullin Automative Museum in California holds an incredible collection of Art Deco cars, among them many classic Bugattis, Delahayes, Delages and Voisins. Indeed, the Bugatti Type 57SC Atlantic that was named the best car in the world earlier this year is part of the collection.
The plans can be viewed on the West Oxfordshire District Council website; we’ll keep you updated as to how they progress.