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Multi-millionaire loses home bid
ONE of Britain’s richest men has lost his battle to build an ultra-modern house on an unspoilt stretch of the Hampshire coastline.
A Government-appointed planning inspector has rejected an appeal lodged by Jim Ratcliffe after his plans for a five-bedroom mansion made mainly of glass were thrown out last year.
James Gray said the proposed new house was twice the size of the existing property on the site at Thorns Beach, near Beaulieu.
He added that the design was not sufficiently exceptional to overcome planning policies drawn up by the New Forest National Park Authority, which is against isolated new homes being built in the countryside.
Mr Gray’s ruling follows a planning inquiry held at Lymington town hall last month.
Thorns Beach is part of the 7,000-acre Beaulieu Estate and one of the people who spoke against Mr Ratcliffe’s proposal was the Hon Mary Montagu-Scott, daughter of Lord Montagu.
She told the inquiry: “Thorns Beach is a very unspoilt piece of the New Forest.
“A very large house on a relatively small site would change the character of the area. If the applicant wants a large house, he should buy a large house.”
But other speakers praised Mr Ratcliffe’s proposal to demolish the existing bungalow.
It was formerly owned by the late Helen Tew who in 2001, aged 89, became the oldest yachtswoman to sail the Atlantic twice.
Her eldest son Donald told the inspector: “The new property would blend in with the shoreline far better than the houses either side.
“It would be tragic if this proposal were refused. I urge you to grant planning permission for this truly inspirational project.”
The inspector’s report describes the house as a “significant improvement” on the existing property.
It adds: “The design of the house may be very good, somewhat out of the ordinary and likely to be found acceptable in other locations.
“However it cannot really be described as exceptional, truly outstanding or reflecting the highest standards in architecture.
“As a result the proposal cannot be seen as justifying an exception to the policy that new isolated homes in the countryside should be avoided.”
As reported in the Daily Echo, Mr Ratcliffe is one of Britain’s richest men, having seen his wealth rocket by £370m to £520m in 2011.
His fortune includes his stake in the INEOS chemical company, which he founded in 1998 and has offices in Lyndhurst.
The Beaulieu Estate objected to Mr Ratcliffe’s previous proposal to build a house at Thorns Beach, which was withdrawn after sparking almost 40 protests, but declined to comment on the outcome of the inquiry.
Mrs Montagu-Scott told the inspector that her brother, the Hon Ralph Montagu, who owns the estate, had no strong views either way.
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