Millionaire faces demolishing his £4m eco-home after enraging locals

Australian millionaire faces having to demolish his £4million eco-home after enraging locals by flouting planning rules to build ‘Grand Designs-style monstrosity’ in sleepy Dorset village

  • Neighbours are up in arms at the size of the ‘Grand Designs-style’ home in parish of Botenhampton in Dorset
  • The building is one metre taller in places than agreed by planners and is closer to the road than meant to be
  • The huge Y-shaped property with a two storey orangery now dwarfs a row of 18th century cottages opposite
  • Businessman Kim Hughes has been accused of ‘riding roughshod’ over the local planning rules

An Australian millionaire is facing the prospect of demolishing his £4 million eco-home after enraging locals by flouting planning rules to buy a ‘Grand Designs-style monstrosity’ in a sleepy village. 

Neighbours in the parish of Bothenhampton in Dorset are up in arms at the size of the property built by businessman Kim Hughes and his wife Debra.

The building is one metre taller in places than was agreed by planners and is also much closer to the road than is meant to be.

As a result the large Y-shaped property that has a two storey organgery now dwarfs a row of 18th century cottages opposite.

Some homeowners have complained that their picturesque countryside views have been blocked by the controversial house which is also said to be too overbearing for the small village which is in an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty.

Mr Hughes has been accused of ‘riding roughshod’ over local planning rules by not sticking to the agreed plans that were hand-drawn and said to be worthy of a ‘village art club’.

Neighbours in the parish of Bothenhampton in Dorset are up in arms at the size of the property built by businessman Kim Hughes and his wife Debra

Plans reveal how the couple intended the £4m eco-house in the sleepy village to look – though they now face the prospect of having to demolish it

The building is one metre taller in places than was agreed by planners and is also much closer to the road than is meant to be

Kate Wheller, a member of Dorset Council’s planning committee, said: ‘The plans may as well have been drawn on the back of a fag packet. Inevitably these hand-drawn plans led to inaccuracies and variations in the height of the building.’

One reason given for the building being taller than it ought to be is due to the amount of insulation packed into the roof space to reduce energy bills.

Mr Hughes submitted a retrospective planning application to make the development lawful leading to villagers to club together to hire their own planning expert to object.

And members of Dorset Council’s planning committee ‘dug their heels in’ and sided with the objectors by refusing the application.

Mr Hughes, who is currently back in Australia, has launched an appeal against the decision.

If he is unsuccessful, he will face enforcement action, with one option being to demolish the building and start again.

Mrs Wheller said: ‘We dug our heels in. It sounds a bit vindictive on our part but it’s not. It would make a nonsense to have a planning committee at all if we let people do as they please.

‘The original application letter stated the development would be a dream home worthy of Kevin McLeod’s Grand Designs. It was costing £4m.

The large Y-shaped property that has a two storey organgery now dwarfs a row of 18th century cottages opposite

Some homeowners have complained that their picturesque countryside views have been blocked by the controversial house which is also said to be too overbearing for the small village which is in an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty

Plans reveal how the couple intended the £4m eco-house in the sleepy village to look – though they now face the prospect of having to demolish it 

‘But residents realised after the work had started the building didn’t seem to comply with the planning application; it was much closer to the front boundary and was a lot higher. It is higher than it should be and one of the wings is further forward then it should be.

‘I have visited the site and I am surprised at such a large development in such a small village that is also in a conservation area.’

One villager upset by the development is Robin Carter.

In his letter of objection he said: ‘If ever there was an example of how to try and confuse and muddle a statutory authority this planning application must surely take the prize.

‘From its initial presentation with a hand drawn sketch worthy of a village art club to its derisory description of being a sustainable structure and its ‘make it up as you go along’ building level reference points, it seems designed to bamboozle.

‘If our village is to be burdened by this imposing structure, which is apparently one house but looks like several, it should at least be reduced in height to a level which is bearable to live with.’

Fellow neighbour David Pencheon echoed the sentiment.

He said: ‘The new owners have deliberately ridden roughshod over local planning considerations and have not abided by the rules.

Mr Hughes, who is currently back in Australia, has launched an appeal against the decision

Plans reveal how the couple intended the £4m eco-house in the sleepy village to look – though they now face the prospect of having to demolish it

‘It makes a mockery of the planning application process if they are allowed to get away with these contraventions.

‘It would be an illegal and dangerous precedent if this build were accepted in a conservation area.

‘It could be conceived that as long as an applicant has money and influence then they can ride roughshod over the planning laws.

‘It would make a mockery of planning and conservation area laws.’

Natural England, Historic England, the Highways Authority and Environmental Health also registered their objections to the building.

A spokesman for PAAD Archiects, which is acting on behalf of Mr Hughes, said: ‘The scheme was submitted earlier this year with recommendation for approval by the planning officer but was refused by the planning committee.

‘We have subsequently halted all construction works and lodged an appeal with the planning inspectorate.

‘We have kept the planning department informed at all times of our intentions.’.

Dr Kelvin Clayton, a local Green Party councillor and also a member of the council’s planning committee, said: ‘The crux of the issue is that a large number of local people are complaining that it’s been built bigger than the original drawings.

‘The case is due to come up and be discussed at our meeting in January.

‘We will consider enforcement action and myself and the committee will ask questions of all parties.’

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