Thu. Feb 29th, 2024

    Owner of house with a 25-foot shark sticking out of the roof is banned from renting it out on Airbnb (but the giant big white fiberglass is NOT the problem!)

    The large white fiberglass figure was built in 1986 by then-owner Bill Heine
    Oxford council chiefs say it can no longer be rented out due to a planning issue
    The iconic house was available to rent on Airbnb for £1,000 per night

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    The owner of a house with a 7.5-metre shark sticking out of the roof is not allowed to rent it out on Airbnb because he does not have a building permit from his municipality.

    Council chiefs in Oxford have told Magnus Hanson-Heine to stop renting out the property – known worldwide as the ‘Headington Shark House’ – as a short-term holiday let.

    They say he has failed to apply for planning permission to change the use of the terraced house from permanent to temporary housing.

    The iconic house – which has protected heritage status – has been available for rent on Airbnb for several years. A one night stay can cost over £1,000 during peak periods.

    It became one of the most famous and photographed houses in Oxford after Magnus’ father Bill crashed the ‘Jaws’-style shark onto the roof as a protest against warfare and bombing.

    Council chiefs in Oxford have told Magnus Hanson-Heine to stop renting out the property – known worldwide as the ‘Headington Shark House’ – as a short-term holiday let.

    The shark, made of fiberglass and steel, was built by sculptor John Buckley and built in 1986

    Made of fiberglass and steel and built by sculptor John Buckley, it was built in 1986 on the anniversary of the atomic bomb dropped on the Japanese city of Nagasaki.

    A six-year planning battle ensued which only ended when then Environment Minister Michael Heseltine made a personal visit to the house and gave permission for the building to remain.

    Last year it was added to the Oxford Heritage Asset Register as a place of interest – despite Magnus’ objection because his father had initially installed the shark in protest against planning laws.

    The Shark House has been rented out for the past five years, but an investigation has been launched by Oxford City Council for breaches of planning laws.

    He was told to take over ownership of Airbnb this month, but has since appealed to the National Planning Inspectorate and plans to remain open until his appeal is heard in six months.

    Magnus said, “I plan to fight this, and it seems so random that they chose me. There are others in Oxford who use their homes as Airbnbs on weekends. The house has previously been involved in a planning dispute with the council and this could be a vendetta.

    ‘The house has been used as an Airbnb and advertised on other platforms for five years. Why do they want to close it now?

    ‘The Shark House allows visitors to the area to enter a unique piece of Oxford history, closing as an Airbnb would represent a significant loss to Oxford’s distinctive tourism offer.’

    The Headington Shark has become a minor tourist attraction in Oxford over the years

    He added that laws about homeowners using their homes for short-term rentals need to be clarified and updated, as they came into effect before Airbnb’s existence.

    How the Great White made waves in Oxford

    August 1986 – Great white shark established in New High Street, Headington

    1990 – Oxford councilors refuse retroactive planning permission

    1992 – Environment Minister Michael Heseltine backs calls to keep the shark

    2017 – Calls were made for it to be officially included in the Oxford Heritage Asset Register and English Heritage

    2022 – Officially added to the Oxford Heritage Asset Register as a site of interest

    Magnus, who inherited the house after his father died in 2019 at the age of 74, said it is rented out most weekends.

    On Airbnb it receives rave reviews from guests with a rating of 4.86. The house can sleep up to 10 people and in April a two-night stay would cost more than £2,000. The average price is €300 per night.

    The most recent review from a guest named Rick from London gave the house a 5 star rating.

    He wrote: ‘I would highly recommend this place for a group of friends or a family visiting Oxford. This place is not only a landmark but also a very comfortable and private home. It’s spacious and had lots of local amenities, transport and things to do around Oxford.’

    Councilor Linda Smith, Oxford City Council’s cabinet member for housing, said: ‘Where properties have changed from residential homes to short-term rental businesses without plan approval, we are taking enforcement action.

    ‘We live in one of the least affordable places for housing in Britain. There are almost 800 properties in Oxford fully let for short lets, and we need them for people to live in and not as holiday accommodation.”

    The councilor made this comment after the municipality began its investigation into the shark house.

    A spokesperson for Oxford City Council has been contacted for comment.

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