With seven different mechanical diggers standing abandoned and builders downing tools on an estate churned into a mud bath, this is the David and Victoria Beckham‘s new £6 million country pile, months behind schedule after ongoing rows with council planning bosses.
Work has moved at a snail’s pace on Cotswolds triple-barn conversion all year after elaborate plans were blocked by planning officers and new ones were drawn up only to be bound up in bureaucratic red tape.
The couple and their four children had hoped to move into the nine-bedroom home, this summer but have instead spent recent weeks at their home in Los Angeles and now may not move in for the remainder of the year.
Work has moved at a snail’s pace on Cotswolds triple-barn conversion all year after elaborate plans were blocked by planning officers and new ones were drawn up only to be bound up in beaurocratic red tape
The couple and their four children had hoped to move into the nine-bedroom home, this summer but have instead spent recent weeks at their home in Los Angeles and now may not move in for the remainder of the year
David and Victoria Beckham bought the home in the Cotswolds from landowner Nicholas Johnston, who is an old Etonian friend of David Cameron
These are first aerial shots of the house, which was bought in the new year from landowner Nicholas Johnston, an Old Etonian friend of David Cameron.
The triple-barn is joined at its north end by two glass-walled walkways – called ‘Link Pavilions’ in plans – to make the shape of a capital letter ‘E’.
The shape of the triple barn allows for two eighty-feet-wide square courtyards within – one to the east and the ther to the west.
Architects seem to have gone to extraordinary lengths to persuade council planners that their plans do not adversely affect the environment.
The triple-barn is joined at its north end by two glass-walled walkways – called ‘Link Pavilions’ in plans – to make the shape of a capital letter ‘E’
The Beckhams have employed top-end gardeners to design an English country garden surrounding the house – at vast expense – with a mixture of bought-in mature trees, plants and shrubs fitting in character with the local environment
The Beckhams had been desperate for a huge swimming pool but have had to settle for proposing a ‘natural swimming pond’ within one of the courtyards so that it is not visible from the public road running nearby.
Similarly they wanted an elaborate outside seating and partying area in the other courtyard but have had to instead propose a ‘temporary’ 10-feet-wide wooden pergola which can be removed when necessary.
The Beckhams have also employed top-end gardeners to design an English country garden surrounding the house – at vast expense – with a mixture of bought-in mature trees, plants and shrubs fitting in character with the local environment.
The list of shipped in mature trees has is costing thousands of pounds and includes 23 evergreen oaks, seven white oaks, eight cherry trees, a plum tree, nine apple trees, three holly trees, nine witch hazels and a maple.
Within the eastern courtyard, a trendy ‘natural swimming pond’ is awaiting council approval to be sunk into the ground.
The couple have paid a fortune to design an English country garden with a mixture of bought-in mature trees, plants and shrubs fitting in character with the local environment
Until the council gives final approval for the lavish plans on the site, the numerous diggers remain at a virtual standstill
It is also not a very long drive from Soho Farmhouse, the exclusive members’ country club where Prince Harry took Meghan Markle for a romantic break
At the moment and for the past few months, this area has just been a vast expanse of mud, as pictures show.
The proposed pool measures 41 feet by 24 feet and is just 4’7′ inches deep meaning David himself, who measures 5’11’ will only be able to be covered in water up to his chest when standing on the bottom. It certainly will not be deep enough to dive into.
The natural pool is chemical free, using a natural bio-filtration system consisting of mains water phosphorous pre-treatment. All equipment is contained in an equipment room under the tallet steps on the gable end of the east wing.
Architects have apparently been bending over backwards to win approval from council planners as the construction of the pergola in the west courtyard seems to show.
In the East Courtyard, it is proposed that the timber pergola will be constructed within the west courtyard formed between the newly reconstructed north wing and link pavilion, and the grade II listed central wing.
This simple timber structure measuring approximately 43 feet by 10 feet will provide support for climbing plants and provide shade for an outdoor seating area.
Architects seem at pains to clarify that: ‘The structure is lightweight and can easily be removed in the future and as such could be considered to be reversible. The proposed pergola is freestanding is not connected to the listed buildings or rely on support from them in any way.’
Until the council gives final approval, the diggers remain at a virtual standstill.
The architect’s proposal seems almost desperate in its efforts to persuade council planners to agree.
The architect’s summary to planners reads: ‘The proposed development does not alter the historic fabric of the listed building in any way. The proposed landscape scheme is less formal than the current approved and part implemented scheme, and more sympathetic to the heritage of (the original house), and as such provides a modest enhancement of the setting of the listed building.
In June of this year, the Beckhams applied to West Oxfordshire District Council for permission to make more changes to their original scheme, including changing the tiles on the roof and details of windows
David and Victoria Beckham are currently living in Los Angeles while they wait for their lavish new Cotswolds home to be completed
In conclusion, the architect states: ‘The proposed development is of high quality design, materials and layout appropriate to the location and setting adjacent to the grade II listed Park Farm Barn. Both the proposed new outbuilding and driveway are well screened by the proposed site-wide landscaping scheme, mitigating any harmful visual impact on the wider landscape and setting.
‘As the landscaping matures the visual impact will be significantly reduced. It is hoped that West Oxfordshire District Council Officers will be able to support the proposed development. I look forward to receiving the application acknowledgement shortly and trust the allocated case officer will not hesitate to contact me should there be any queries regarding the proposal.’
In addition, in June of this year, the Beckhams applied to West Oxfordshire District Council for permission to make more changes to their original scheme, including changing the tiles on the roof and details of windows.
The application stated: ‘It is proposed that the blue slates to the roofs of the newly rebuilt linking ranges are replaced with … stone slates to match those now in place on the listed barn and the east and west ranges.
‘It is proposed that two metal flues be added to the west range to serve a new fireplace and kitchen extract and it is proposed that the approved metal windows and glazed doors be replaced by metal ‘Critall’ style windows and solid timber plank doors. These changes are considered to be sympathetic to the character of former utilitarian agricultural buildings.’
The couple, pictured with children Brooklyn, Romeo, Cruz and Harper, are unlikely to be able to move into the home for the rest of the year due to the planning delays
David Beckham, pictured with son Romeo at Queen’s Club last year, purchased the swanky conversion from Nicholas Johnston, and work on the home began in February
The application says that the windows and doors are the same as those used in a very nearby restoration of a Grade II listed building, as is the Beckhams’ new house, which was approved by the council’s planners.
Land Registry documents also disclose Posh and Becks paid £6.15 million for the swanky barn conversion.
Renovations started on the estate in February. They enlisted the help of top architect and ‘development designer’ Michael Ergatoudis, who works for Soho House. Publicly available plans show that Soho House get the veto over all fixtures and fittings. However soon afterwards work began, it appeared to come to a halt.
In April, David and Victoria applied to the local council for permission to reslate one of the roofs to create the ‘unified’ look they desire as the tile colours didn’t match.
In July, a new application to the council asked for permission to change the roofs on outbuildings to thatched rather than tiled covering.
The nine-bedroom pile — joining up three separate buildings with two new glass extensions — sits in acres of rolling countryside near Chipping Norton.
The bill for the construction is estimated at £1.8 million but is set to be double that with a state-of-the art security system being fitted
It is also not a very long drive from Soho Farmhouse, the exclusive members’ country club where Prince Harry took Meghan Markle for a romantic break.
Landowner Nicholas Johnston, who sold the barn to the Beckhams, owns the Great Tew estate in Oxfordshire, where he hosts the Chipping Norton set’s annual Cornbury ‘Poshstock’ music festival.
Johnston already had permission to renovate the Cotswolds property and it seems the Beckhams are happy to go along with his plans.
These include the construction of two mezzanine galleries, which could be used to house their collection of Banksy and Damien Hirst creations. They have also applied to build a swimming pool, a pergola, a 20-metre croquet lawn, a fruit orchard comprising apple, pear and plum trees and two vegetable patches.
Soho House, owned by Nick Jones, is said to be overseeing the renovations for the couple.
The bill for the construction is estimated at £1.8 million but is set to be double that with a state-of-the art security system being fitted.
Beckham, 42, and Victoria, 43, who already own a £31 million West London home, have been very strict with the builders, banning mobile phones on site.
There have been rumours for some time of David and Victoria’s plans to move to the country with their family. Shortly after their wedding in 1991, the couple bought a sprawling house in Hertfordshire – dubbed Beckingham Palace by some – but sold it in 2014.
David, in particular, always looks at home in the country. He is a keen angler and there are plenty of fishing lakes in the Cotswolds area. There are also ample opportunities for David to sample a pint or two. ‘I love going to pubs in the countryside, or to my local pub, where everyone knows me and I don’t get bothered,’ he has said.
The Beckhams will likely keep their four-storey Holland Park mansion in London, as the children’s school and Victoria’s fashion empire are based in the city.
Soho Farmhouse is a popular with the Beckhams. It is a popular spot celebrities and branded ‘Hotel Smug’ and ‘Butlin’s for Toffs’ by critics.
On the 100-acre site of a former farm it comprises 40 purpose-built cabins, refurbished cottages and honeystone barns stuffed with every modern convenience, including bars, spas and even a cheese room.
The back-to-nature retreat is where guests can have their mojitos and custom-cured charcuterie delivered to their door in retro milk floats, and join early morning yoga sessions on surfboards.
Guests at this rural idyll are issued on arrival with wellington boots and Foffa bicycles, the two-wheeled steed of choice of fashionable Londoners, while their 4x4s are whisked carefully out of sight.
David and Samantha Cameron were said to be the last ones on the dancefloor during the opening bash last year.
This former working farm, complete with 40 log cabins with rustic metal bathtubs, Le Creuset cookware and larders stocked with artisan food, is an offshoot of Soho House, the exclusive London private members’ club for media types.
It may have only opened last year, but it has already amassed an impressive guest list.
Supermodels have been hitting the dance floor with Oscar-winning actors. And sealing its reputation as the place to be seen, DJ Mark Ronson hired the entire estate for his 40th birthday celebrations on Thursday, with parties continuing through the weekend.
Guests are ferried to their luxury cabin on a reconditioned milk float while sipping on a refreshing beverage.
Or they can choose to ride one of the estate’s 11 ponies, or hop on a retro Foffa bike, painted in Soho Farmhouse’s signature teal blue, complete with wicker basket.
Others who have partied there include Princess Eugenie, Prince Harry’s ex-girlfriend Cressida Bonas, Eddie Redmayne, Poppy Delevingne, actress Liv Tyler, Pixie Geldof, Jemima Khan, Mary Charteris and rapper Professor Green.
However Cotswolds locals have become increasingly annoyed in recent months with the constant stream of 4X4s hurtling long the single-track country roads leading to the trendy members club.
Residents took to the internet to complain to planning officials after the upmarket getaway applied for permission to build 10 new ‘pods’ in the style of pig sties to house an extra 40 bedrooms.
A decision is still pending but one irate horse rider wrote: ‘They come out of Soho Farmhouse, in their shiny, fast cars and drive like maniacs.
‘I have had cars behind rev their engines, beep, pass so close to my horse that I could have touched the car if I had reached out, but it’s mainly the speed they fly around these little lanes.
‘It’s going to kill someone, be it a horse rider, walker, or cyclist.’
Another neighbour complained to the local council: ‘The guests overtake, rev up and speed like boy racers. This is totally unacceptable behaviour.’
The rider added that the area was now ‘not safe’ for people on horses as they were being ‘forced to mount verges’, while traffic-calming measures were not working.
She added: ‘The new people using Soho are enjoying their playground and totally ruining our peaceful countryside, not to mention the rudeness we are subjected to.