Planning permission is being sought to renovate a well-known Grade I-listed building in Stevenage that holds significant historical interest and literary associations.

A planning application has been submitted to Stevenage Borough Council to carry out renovations and repairs to Rooks Nest House on Weston Road - the childhood home of novelist EM Forster.

The Grade I-listed house was built in the early 1600s and altered and extended in the 18th century.

It has been listed Grade I since 1976 for its historical interest and literary associations, having been EM Forster's home between 1883 and 1893, and the setting for his novel Howards End. In addition, Elizabeth Poston, composer and president of the Society of Women’s Musicians, lived in the house from 1914 until her death in 1987.

The Comet: The current owner wants to knock walls down in the kitchen.The current owner wants to knock walls down in the kitchen. (Image: Supplied)


In 1979, the countryside surrounding the house was officially named Forster Country by local planners and, in 1994, a government agreement to modify the Green Belt boundary to protect the open green space was obtained.

However, in 2020 approval was granted to build 800 new homes on the land between North Road and Weston Road.

The Comet: The plans include covering up exposed external beams.The plans include covering up exposed external beams. (Image: Supplied)

The current owner of Rooks Nest House now wants to carry out internal works to the property that include replacing the wooden flooring at ground floor, creating a bathroom on the first floor, removing walls in the kitchen, installing wood burning stoves and replacing the internal render.

Externally, the owner wants to remove the pebble dash render and replace it with lime render, as well as cover exposed beams on a gable wall.


A planning statement accompanying the application says: "We are looking to restore the house to a form that would be generally recognisable to a visitor over the last couple of hundred years, while ensuring it remains a family home that can be lived in comfortably, and in an environmentally conscious manner during the course of the 21st century."

The Comet: The renovation plans include replacing the internal render.The renovation plans include replacing the internal render. (Image: Supplied)

The owner has promised to retain as much of the existing fabric as possible, repair using like-for-like materials, and use contractors who have detailed experience with similar historic buildings.

To view the planning application and have your say, visit and search for reference 23/00724/LB in the planning portal.