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Millionaire couple LOSE bid to build £4m ultra-bright mansion on River Beaulieu

Millionaire couple LOSE bid to build £4m ultra-bright mansion on River Beaulieu

A millionaire software tycoon couple have lost their bid to build a £4million riverside mansion after a planning inspector ruled their ‘ultra-bright’ mansion would ruin the night sky.

Chris Hoyle and his wife Elaine had submitted plans to build the huge avant-garde waterfront estate on Hampshire’s famous Beaulieu River.

The river – where Lord Nelson’s favorite ship was built – has one of the darkest skies in Britain, according to official records, and is given the ‘highest conservation status’ because it is located in a national park.

However, according to Mr. and Mrs. Hoyle’s plans, they would demolish a 1960s property to replace it with a modern two-storey house, equipped with a central glass atrium, three wings and a ‘very large’ amount of artificial outdoor lighting.

The couple, who move to the area, faced a vociferous backlash from the local gentry after they submitted their plans — with enraged sailors saying the light would be so bright it would have blinded them.

Now a planning inspector has rejected the Hoyles’ plans over the “massive amount of lighting,” saying the light pollution would risk eroding “the rural darkness and tranquility” at the celebrated site.

Millionaire software expert Chris Hoyle and his wife Elaine wanted to build an avant-garde mansion in the New Forest, but local gentry warned that the bright lighting could blind sailors on the Beaulieu River at night.  Pictured: The planned location of their £4 million home

Millionaire software expert Chris Hoyle and his wife Elaine wanted to build an avant-garde mansion in the New Forest, but local gentry warned that the bright lighting could blind sailors on the Beaulieu River at night. Pictured: The planned location of their £4 million home

The couple hoped to demolish a 1960s property and build a two-storey house, 1.2m (4ft) higher with three wings, a central glass atrium and outbuildings

The couple hoped to demolish a 1960s property and build a two-storey house, 1.2m (4ft) higher with three wings, a central glass atrium and outbuildings

Beaulieu River, in the New Forest National Park in Hampshire, is one of the few private waterways in the world and has a rich maritime history.

The Hoyles sold their driving simulation software business in 2019 for a £23 million deal and bought an existing property on a 1.6 hectare plot on the Beaulieu River.

But they say the lot wasn’t big enough and made plans to tear down the large, white, 1960s riverside home and rebuild their two-story home with three wings, an atrium, and outbuildings.

A planning committee ruled that ‘unacceptable levels of light pollution’ would have a ‘negative impact’ on the river’s users. But the Hoyles have appealed.

Objections to the plans included the Beaulieu River Sailing Club’s Commodore, The Hon Mary Montagu-Scott, who said it would be a “security risk.”

The 57-year-old said: ‘Darkness is absolutely crucial to night vision for sailors entering the river at night and any increase in light pollution from houses with large glass windows and doors, especially lighting paths, trees, driveways, pavilions, flood lights from tennis courts, gardens, buildings, glass skylights or domes, etc. are harmful to night vision and as such pose a hazard to safe navigation.

‘There are navigation lights to mark the main channel of the river to assist sailors, one of which is on [the house]… It is absolutely critical that these navigation lights cannot be confused with other lights in the vicinity and also that ‘night vision’ for sailors is not affected by other light pollution from houses.

‘My interest is in protecting the nature, atmosphere and character of the Beaulieu River for future generations and protecting the safety of shipping for sailors.’

Chris Hoyle, a millionaire software expert

Sailing Club Commodore Mary Montagu-Scott, Owner of the Private River

Chris Hoyle (left), a millionaire software expert, has appealed Sailing Club Commodore Mary Montagu-Scott (right) claims that the house ‘would pose a threat to safe navigation’

New Hampshire's famous Beaulieu River is one of the few private waterways in the world and has a rich maritime history

New Hampshire’s famous Beaulieu River is one of the few private waterways in the world and has a rich maritime history

The Hoyles rejected two applications, but submitted their latest application to an appeals committee.

But the planning committee threw it away after the third reading.

An inspector report said that “the site has a strikingly green and tranquil character” and “is in one of the darkest locations according to CPRE dark skies mapping information”.

It added that the house would stand out in relation to ‘the wider landscape and its impact on the rural tranquility and dark skies associated with the site’.

The report states: ‘The site is in a particularly prominent position along the river, close to a sharp bend… It is clearly visible in the view from the river.

†[The plans] would introduce a very large number of new external artificial lighting to the attraction site in conjunction with the new roof terraces, stair accesses, garden paths, outbuildings, swimming pool and parking area, each of which would result in an element of light washing.

‘This in itself has an urbanizing impact on the job site.

‘Such lighting, much of which is in an elevated position, and the associated use of the raised terraces outside, would together affect the peaceful character of the attractive place, both through light pollution and noise pollution.

‘It has not been sufficiently demonstrated that the notice of objection would not cause significant damage to the character and appearance of the area.

‘It would therefore be in conflict with’ [local policies which] seeking to ensure that new development meets the highest standards of new design, which preserves and enhances the New Forest landscape and local character and distinctiveness.

†[It would be contrary to local policies which] protects the landscape environment, including appropriate design, layout, mass and scale, and the avoidance of artificial lighting from eroding rural darkness and tranquility and gradual suburbanization effects within the National Park.’

However, according to Mr. and Mrs. Hoyle's plans, they would demolish a 1960s property to replace it with a modern two-storey house, equipped with a central glass atrium, three wings and a 'very large' amount of artificial outdoor lighting.

However, according to Mr. and Mrs. Hoyle’s plans, they would demolish a 1960s property to replace it with a modern two-storey house, equipped with a central glass atrium, three wings and a ‘very large’ amount of artificial outdoor lighting.

An inspector's report said that 'the site has a striking green and tranquil character' and 'is in one of the darkest locations according to CPRE dark skies mapping information'.  Pictured: The proposed 'ultra-bright' mansion

An inspector’s report said that ‘the site has a striking green and tranquil character’ and ‘is in one of the darkest locations according to CPRE dark skies mapping information’. Pictured: The proposed ‘ultra-bright’ mansion

Beaulieu River’s ownership dates back to 1204, when King John was on the throne, and it has been owned by the Montagu family for four centuries.

The river has a rich maritime history and proved immensely important during the Napoleonic Wars, when it served as a major shipbuilding site, producing over 50 wooden ships for the Royal Navy.

At Buckler’s Hard on the river, shipbuilder Henry Adams and his sons built ships that fought at the Battle of Trafalgar in 1805, including Agamemnon, Euryalus, and Swiftsure.

Lord Nelson declared HMS Agamemnon, nicknamed ‘Eggs and Bacon’, his favorite ship ever. The admiral served as captain for three years from 1793 and the combative ship was involved in many infamous wars.

During World War II, Buckler’s Hard on the river became an important torpedo base.

The famous Gipsy Moth IV, used by Sir Francis Chichester when he became the first person to sail alone around the world, occasionally straddles the Beaulieu River.

Mr. Hoyle, an IT expert, founded the driving simulation software rFpro in 2007. It is used by racing teams in Formula 1 and motorsport.

The company, based in Romsey, Hants – where the pair are from – was bought in 2019 by simulation company AB Dynamics for £18.1 million, with £3.5 million in conditional additions, and Mr Hoyle remained with the company to support as a non-executive director.

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