January 26, 2024 9:40 am

Insert Lead Generation
Nikka Sulton

Airbnb has taken down a unique Oxford property featuring a shark on its roof due to an ongoing planning dispute. The terraced house, owned by cinema proprietor and radio host Bill Heine, gained notoriety for the 25-foot fibreglass shark erected in 1986 without formal consent. Despite a prolonged six-year debate with the local Labour council, the structure was allowed to remain without official approval.

This flamboyant property in North Oxford became a symbol of a decades-long planning struggle, highlighting the challenges between property owners and local authorities. The removal from Airbnb underscores the enduring clash over unconventional structures and the complexities involved in navigating planning regulations.

Since Bill Heine’s demise, his son has taken the initiative to list the unique Oxford property on Airbnb, setting nightly rates ranging from £300 to £1,000 based on seasonal variations. Despite the quirky history of the house, a fresh dispute has emerged as the Oxford council asserts that no formal consent has been sought for the conversion of the property from a permanent residence to a short-term accommodation facility catering to Airbnb rentals.

This recent development adds a new chapter to the property’s tumultuous history, which initially gained notoriety due to the installation of a 25-foot fibreglass shark on its roof without formal planning consent in 1986. The local council engaged in a protracted six-year debate with Bill Heine before allowing the shark to remain, though never officially granting it formal consent.

The property, known for its longstanding history as a rental, encountered a challenge last July when the owner received a breach notice from the council. Despite efforts to appeal, the request for permission was ultimately denied, raising questions about the property’s residential status. The council’s decision, rooted in concerns about the potential loss of a residential dwelling and the perceived lack of exceptional circumstances in the proposal, led to further actions.

In response to the situation, the council issued an enforcement notice in November. This notice is a formal directive outlining specific actions that must be taken to rectify the situation, emphasizing the council’s commitment to addressing the perceived non-compliance with existing regulations. The enforcement notice signifies the continuation of the dispute surrounding the property and highlights the ongoing efforts to ensure adherence to local regulations.

The newly appointed owner, Magnus Heine, has voiced his determination to contest the council’s decision, finding it perplexing and questioning the seemingly arbitrary timing of the enforcement action. Despite the property operating as an Airbnb for five years and being promoted on various platforms, the recent scrutiny has prompted concerns about the adequacy and relevance of existing laws governing homeowners engaging in short-term lets, particularly in the context of modern platforms like Airbnb.

In response to the council’s decision, Heine has taken the matter to the planning inspectorate, seeking resolution and clarification on the regulatory stance. This step reflects a proactive approach to address the issue and underscores the importance of navigating the evolving landscape of short-term rentals within the framework of existing regulations, which may require reconsideration and updating.

Amidst the legal considerations, the property remains available for short-term lets, signaling Heine’s commitment to maintaining its status during the ongoing deliberations. The situation raises broader questions about the need for a comprehensive review of regulatory frameworks to ensure they align with the changing dynamics of the property rental market, especially in the context of platforms like Airbnb, which have reshaped the landscape of short-term accommodations.


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