19th Nov, 2019

Friend of royals refuses £2million for housing development on land as it would ruin his view

Laura Kearns 19th Oct, 2017

AN ARISTOCRAT and friend of the royals refused a £2million offer for his field to be turned into homes – because they would ruin his views.

David Smith-Ryland – whose family have played host to royals – was approached by developer Rosconn over plans to build 50 houses.

The 56-year-old claims a figure of around £2 million was suggested for the five acre field on his estate at Gooseberry Hall Farm in Barford.

Mr Smith-Ryland – whose family have lived on the estate since 1837 – said he rejected the offer because he did not want to ‘block’ his view of an ancient stable block.

He said: “I am not interested in applying for planning permission on the land because of the negative impact any development would have on the landscape in the area, including blocking the view of the attractive old Barford Hill Stables.

“It would have impacted upon the view of the stables which, even though they’ve been developed and enlarged, they are nonetheless still attractive. If the field was developed, it would block the view of the old stables from Hareway Lane.

“There’s a need for housing all over England but it must be appropriate.”

Mr Smith-Ryland’s late father Sir Charles was Lord Lieutenant of Warwickshire and the family frequently entertained royals at the Sherbourne Park estate, which they owned.

Today, he and his older brother Robin, 61, own and run the family’s 2,000-acres of countryside straddling the River Avon.

David rents much of the land farmers and dog walking businesses while Robin, an Old Etonian and huntsman, lives in Sherbourne Manor on the River Avon.

But Warwickshire-based developer Rosconn claims David approached them about the possibility of selling them the land.

According to Rosconn, Mr Smith-Ryland contacted them regarding a possible sale of a field in Hareway Lane.

A spokesman said: “David Smith-Ryland approached us about doing it. We had a call from David who asked us to explore it.

“We had a chat with him, but never made any formal offers. He decided he didn’t want to do anything. It was a strange one – no valuations, no technical work was done at all.”

Mr Smith-Ryland, who lives in a farmhouse in Barford, admits an approach was made to Rosconn but said the deal was halted because it was ‘inappropriate’.

He said: “Rosconn said we could put it out to offers from building companies and thought I could probably get about £2 million.

“My agents were wanting to be the middle man and I told my agent I wasn’t interested and they said ‘look, let’s get Rosconn on board and see what the offer is. I think they were hoping they would persuade me.

“”I’m not anti-development, I’m anti-inappropriate development.”

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