The Duke and Duchess of Sussex’s plans for a permanent base in Great Tew have taken a new turn. They no longer want to rent - but to buy.
Prince Harry and his pregnant wife, the actress Meghan Markle, are said to have cancelled the lease on their temporary home, WestfieldLarge, because of a combinaton of financial and security reasons.
The couple’s main residence is currently Nottingham Cottage at Kensington Palace but they are reportedly now interested in buying Beaconsfield Farm, yards from the socialites’ country club Soho Farmhouse - where Meghan was said to have had her bridal shower.
Next door neighbours would be David and Victoria Beckham, with whom Meghan is said to have become close friends.
Beaconsfield Farm, which has a number of outbuildings, needs extensive renovation. It is yards from the remains of a Roman villa.
The Duke and Duchess were said to be keen on the property before they settled for WestfieldLarge at the time of their wedding last year.
At the same time, the Great Tew Estate started work on a 1050m stone access track, said to be for ‘agricultural use’ which would give the the farm a driveway that would prevent them having to use the busy, very public, single track road to Soho Farmhouse.
Planning permission for the track was submitted after most of it had been constructed. West Oxfordshire District Council refused consent.
An application was resubmitted last June but has still not been decided.
Carys Davies, spokesman for West Oxfordshire District Council, said the hold-up was because officers are waiting for the results of an archeological investigation.
Plan photos show the track in blond, local stone with five metre verges on each side.
Charles Clews, Banbury landscape designer, in a study, said oak trees and hedging will be planted with set-aside areas sown with wildflowers.
“The new agricultural track is a five metre wide,1,050 metre long hardcore track... which runs from the farm to Ledwell Lane,” the report says.
“It was implemented to enable slow moving agricultural traffic to move freely from Beaconsfield Farm to the Tew Estate and wider road network... avoiding the primary entrance to the busy Soho Farmhouse.”
Many local residents have objected. Nick Rees said: “The suspicion remains that the new access is to add to the residential value of Beaconsfield Farm and a prelude to an application for residential development/gentrification and little to do with agricultural management.”
He said inconvenience to Soho Farmhouse users does not warrant creation of a road and loss of 4.9 acres of countryside.
Claire Barry of Chipping Norton said: “Looking at the lane that has been built illegally it is very big, wide and seems to take up a lot of room just for the use of the odd tractor and trailer.
"Does this precede another planning application for Beaconsfield Farm.”
Nicola Knott of Enstone said: “If it is needed for farm machinery then (it is) more suited around the edge of the field and just as a rough track.”
Zoopla puts a value of £953,000 on the farm but daily newspapers have described it as a £1.5m - £2m property.
Great Tew is subject to some very big historic renovation and improvement schemes.