A POLO complex is to be built in the grounds of Britain’s most expensive house.
Spink Property has been granted planning permission for a polo pitch, practice area, exercise track, stables and pavilion in the grounds of Park Place in Remenham.
Developer Michael Spink sold the house and 40 per cent of the 500-acre estate on Remenham Hill for a record £140million in 2011 after spending four years renovating and modernising the property, which is almost 300 years old and Grade II listed.
The buyer was billionaire Andrey Borodin, who was chief executive and co-owner of the Bank of Moscow but fled Russia in 2011 after being accused of fraud and was granted political asylum in 2013.
The pitch will measure 275m by 145m and will have a natural slope to improve drainage. It will be used during the polo season, which runs from April to September.
The 500m exercisetrack will be next to the pitch and have a sand or wood chip surface.
The 100m by 80m practice area will be able to be used for matches in the winter and horse training in the summer.
The timber pavilion will house changing rooms and catering facilities.
The stables will accommodate up to 40 horses along with various feeding and washing rooms and staff facilities. The developer also plans to create an 18,000-litre irrigation lake, which he say will encourage the breeding of great-crested newts, which are a protected species.
Planning permission was granted by Wokingham Borough Council subject to conditions including:
• The number of polo matches is limited to 40 a year.
• A record of the number of matches, dates and times is recorded and made available to view by the council.
• There is no public address system or amplification.
• The facilities are used only by the occupiers and guests of Park Place and there is no public access.
The developer says the complex will provide an “ideal opportunity” to restore the site.
It will be shielded by trees but the construction will involve widening the existing access on to the A4130.
Twelve letters of objection were received from residents raising concerns about noise, lighting, traffic, overlooking, the proximity of the exercise track to residents of Dairy Lane and the size of the stables.
Council planning officer Daniel Ray described the stables as “substantial” but said the developer had agreed to move them about 5m south into the site in order to reduce the building’s height when viewed from the south. To address concerns raised by a number of residents of Dairy Lane and Remenham Parish Council about noise from the exercise track, the applicant agreed to move it further away from the nearest properties.
John Halsall, who chairs Remenham Parish Council and also represents Remenham on the borough council, said there had been lengthy and detailed discussions to address the issues raised.
In a report to the council, Mr Ray said: “Overall the proposed polo pitch and associated facilities would have an impact on the character of this part of the park in terms of having a more prominent leisure use.
“However, the harm is considered to be limited and mitigated through proposed planting and the setting down of the buildings/structures to minimise their presence.
“The proposed development would not have an undue impact on highway safety nor would there be a detrimental impact on the residential amenity of neighbouring development.”
Planning permission was also granted for a new staff accommodation block.
The single-storey building will comprise four staff units as well as storage and parking areas at Bell House. It will be ancillary to Strowdes, a mansion on the estate.