Millionaire property tycoon in bitter row with local council over two £15,000 lion gate posts at his castle
A millionaire property developer is embroiled in a planning row with his local council after he was ordered to remove two £15,000 lion-topped gate posts from his castle.
Edward Packer, 73, is furious after officials ruled that the 12ft high Bath stone pillars outside his seven-bedroom folly are “out of keeping” with the local area.
He has been handed an enforcement notice to remove the structures, which were modelled on the entrance to Chepstow Racecourse.
But Mr Packer says the posts have been well-received by local residents and has vowed to fight the “unelected officials” who are demanding their removal.
The property magnate, who lives in the posh Sneyd Park area of Bristol, stormed: “An Englishman’s home is supposed to be his castle.
“Well, I live in a castle but it doesn’t feel that way after seeing these officials come up here and tell me to take my pillars down.”
Mr Packer moved into Cooks Folly, which was built in the 1840s, around 15 years ago and built the pillars just before Christmas.
It is one of the most exclusive addresses in Bristol and has around ten acres of land backing onto the stunning Avon Gorge.
A letter from the council states the new pillars are “out of keeping” with the listed 1860s house and have “no substantial public benefit”.
But Mr Packer disputes the council’s claim and says the posts are an asset, which enhance the road.
He said: “They say it is out of context with the area, but it’s the area which is out of context with our house, with all the modern developments which were allowed to be built around here.
“I see the posts as an asset, which enhances the folly. I haven’t met one person who doesn’t like them.
“It seems that in the hands of these unelected officials who come up here it must be pulled down.”
Mr Packer has instructed his lawyers to challenge the enforcement notice, a process he expects to cost him £3,000.
He criticised Bristol’s general attitude towards planning policy, adding: “You can’t get anything done in this city. We haven’t got a decent football stadium and no concert venue either.”
Mr Packer said he was unaware his new gate posts would need planning permission.
The rags-to-riches builder, who grew up on a Bristol council estate, has been working in the industry since he was 15.
He bought Cooks Folly around 15 years ago and has spent “thousands” restoring the historic mansion which overlooks the Avon Gorge.
The businessman criticised the “draconian” council which, he claims, will not even allow him to apply for retrospective planning permission.
He said: “I didn’t realise we needed planning permission for the pillars.
“I found out afterwards that anything above 3ft needed permission so I applied for retrospective planning and they wouldn’t have it.
“They won’t even let me speak to a conservation officer. The council is so draconian, trees have more rights than people here.
“It is not like it is a block of flats I’ve just built, they are pillars at the front of a home in a quiet cul-de-sac. What harm will they do? Not one person has complained to me.
“I’ve lived at the home for 15 years and we’ve spent thousands restoring it.
“The councillors are a waste of time, they just rubber stamp what unelected planners say. The planners and politicians in Bristol are too busy fighting each other to help the people.
“We’ve now got to wait for an officer from the Department of Environment to make an independent decision.”
Mr Packer, who still works six days a week despite being 73, says nobody has contacted him personally other than to say they didn’t like the colour.
He added: “The council said the pillars are out of context with the home, but the whole area is out of context with the home so that point is a load of rubbish.
“Apparently there have been five complaints but no one has told me they don’t like the gates. One person said they didn’t like the colour.
“Some people have been talking about me like I’m some toff.
“My father was a prisoner of war in Japan and he died in 1950 because of it. My mother bought me up in a council house in Bristol. I’m just a working class, hard working builder.”
The council has defended the decision, claiming the authority’s planning department had received five complaints about the pillars.
Spokesman Peter Wood said: “Enforcement officers met with colleagues in the Heritage and Conservation Team and assessed the pillars to be harmful to the setting of the listed building and this part of the Sneyd Park Conservation Area.
Mr Packer’s appeal is being dealt with by the independent Planning Inspectorate.