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The Mullin at Great Tew given the go-ahead despite local objections

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Rendering of The Mullin at Great Tew, via Foster + Partners.

The backers of The Mullin at Great Tew, the proposed museum in England’s Cotswolds that would house part of businessman and collector Peter Mullin’s car collection, won approval this week to go ahead with their plans for the £150 million country estate-inspired facility after agreeing to fund local affordable housing projects.

According to the BBC, the West Oxfordshire District Council voted 12-7 to approve the museum after receiving hundreds of letters from area residents: about 220 in favor and about 180 opposed. In September of last year, amid growing opposition to the museum, the same council put the museum plans on hold to allow the developers to “consider the main planning issues that needed to be addressed.”

Proposed in November 2017, The Mullin at Great Tew would encompass roughly 160 acres and include a 200-car museum with 60,000 square feet of display space over four floors along with a Bentley pavilion, a demonstration track, and 28 lodges complete with luxury garages available for purchase as vacation homes. Irish businessman Kieran Hedigan spearheaded the project, though both Mullin – whose collection already resides at the Mullin Museum in Oxnard, California, and who serves as chairman of the Petersen Automotive Museum in Los Angeles – and Nicholas Johnston – on whose Tew estate the development will sit – have had a hand in planning the museum.

To fund the museum’s £150 million (about $190 million) price tag, Mullin and Johnston intend to sell the lodges at up to £5 million to £6 million (about $6.4 million to $7.6 million) each and finance the rest. The initial plan also called for the developers to contribute £12.7 million (about $16.1 million) to redo Tew Park, the Tew estate’s manor house, as contributions meant to bring the project in line with Section 106 of the U.K.’s Town and Country Planning Act.

James Roberts of the Oxford Mail reported that the approved plans included an additional £1.74 million (about $2.21 million) of Section 106 funding, £1.25 million (about $1.59 million) of which is expected to go toward affordable housing. The rest is slated to go toward a local bus service, a parking lot at a nearby school, and traffic calming measures in nearby villages. In addition, the developers agreed to limit the number of events at the museum to five per year and provide means to access the museum by foot, by bike, and by public transportation.

About 200,000 people per year are expected to visit the museum. While the BBC reported the museum is expected to create 338 jobs, other outlets have reported it’ll create fewer.

Opponents of the museum, among them actor and nearby resident Patrick Stewart, objected to the lack of funding for affordable housing in the initial plans as well as the resulting increases in traffic and local property prices. Stewart decried the “commercial and elitist aspect to all this.”

Mullin, 77, has said that the development was not a business venture, rather a “legacy project,” and that he intends to made the cars in his collection “available in a public forum well beyond my lifetime.”

“The impact of the automobile on our modern way of life deserves to be recorded in the most imaginative, educational and absorbing way possible,” he said in a statement put out by the project’s architectural firm, Foster + Partners.