David and Victoria Beckham may get their 91-metre lake - but fish will be banned

Celebrity couple David and Victoria Beckham are set to get consent for a huge garden extension with lake - but they will not be allowed to put fish into it.

Tuesday, 4th August 2020, 1:16 pm
Updated Tuesday, 4th August 2020, 1:20 pm
An image of the proposed garden extension at the Beckhams' Great Tew home, Maplewood Barn. Picture by Getty

The proviso comes from West Oxfordshire District Council's (WODC) ecology officer Esther Frizell-Armitage who says the vast landscaping scheme should ensure fish are not introduced into the pond to protect rare species such as great crested newts.

She also wants the plan to include underground refuges for hedgehogs, reptiles and amphibians. And she has insisted that external lighting is strictly limited so bats and other night-time foragers are not disturbed.

The Beckhams must come up with a five-year plan to show how they intend to maintain the area. They have already modified a lawn tennis court, made for son Romeo - who showed huge promise as a tennis player - into a five-a-side football pitch.

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David and Victoria Beckham who have spent lockdown with three of their four children in Great Tew. Picture by Getty

The celebrity family has applied for planning permission for a number of modifications this year including the garden extension and lake, a gatehouse and an extension to garages linked to their main home by an underground tunnel with large wine cellar.

The plan has met with opposition from neighbours. Michael Douglas accused the couple of wanting to 'bring surburbia into the countryside'.

"If they had wanted all they have applied for, why not find an estate big enough to accommodate all of this," he said in a letter to WODC planning department.

"They want to use the soil dug out... for a bund to protect their privacy (which) changes the whole landscape of the area."

A view of the proposed lake from the Soho Farmhouse side of the property

Mr Douglas challenged claims that the Beckhams want the pond to improve the landscape aesthetically.

"How can you improve the landscape around Great Tew and surrounding areas. What you have at the moment is crop-planted fields, that's what farm land is used for.

"If they had wanted more privacy why buy barns so close to a public lane which all members of the public can use, even those attending Soho House. I believe the planning department need to draw a line on Maplewood Barn and refuse this new planning application," he said.

Charlotte Waddington who lives at Mill House, close to the site, said: "We... object strongly to the siting of yet another new huge new lake - Soho House already have three. How are they proposing to fill this lake? If yet another bore hole (Soho Farmhouse) is drilled down it will of course affect the water table - the Mill House has been fed for hundreds of years by natural springs which are now being impacted by these new water features. We are getting less water and it is being polluted."

An aerial image of the planned garden extension at Maplewood Barn

Neighbour Sue Jones described the proposal as a 'monstrous looking plan'.

"There is no reason for anyone to feel the need to build such an ugly and frankly out-of-keeping with the area body of water. It will have a bad affect on the local wildlife which will lose important feeding habitat. Can't people just be happy with the beautiful landscape they have instead of always tinkering with things?" she said.

Ms Frizell-Armitage commended many of the scheme's proposed enhancement measures include the infilling of existing hedgerows with native species, the creation of the wildlife pond, a wildflower meadow, a hay meadow and bunds planted with native shrubs and trees.

"These features will enhance the ecological value of the site and also provide foraging, refugia and breeding opportunities for species such as bats, birds, reptiles and amphibians," she said.

Talented tennis player Romeo Beckham gets some tips from Wimbledon legend Andy Murray. Picture by Getty

"The loss of the grassland will potentially impact on protected and priority species including amphibians (including great crested newts), reptiles, mammals and ground nesting birds. The grassland may also show botanical interest. I recommend photographs are submitted to show the grassland that is be lost. I will then be able to consider whether a Preliminary Ecology Appraisal is further required.

"Furthermore, I recommend a sensitive external lighting strategy is prepared to ensure the existing and proposed habitat features on site... are not illuminated by the external lighting as this can disturb commuting and foraging bat species."

She said plans must demonstrate that light spillage into wildlife corridors must be minimised. "Under no circumstances should any other external lighting be installed without prior consent," she said.