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As James Dyson Is Finding Out, Your Property Is Not Your Own

A useful definition of “property” is whatever it is that you’ve the right to decide about. If you can decide upon the disposition of whatever it is then it’s your property, if you can’t then it isn’t.

Of course, this all comes in something of a spectrum. It may well be my hand warmer and no one is going to dispute that it’s my property at all but there would be a certain societal resistance to my converting it to a hand held nuclear furnace. And, to be fair, rightly so.

And yet, that chunk of rolling greensward that has been the first purchase of every Englishman who has made it – to become country gentry in three generations time being the grand ambition – isn’t quite the property that many think it is or should be:

Sir James Dyson has lost a battle with conservationists after he was forced to abandon plans to build a man-made waterfall at his £20 million country estate.

The billionaire inventor lodged proposals to fit the water feature at his Dodington Estate in Gloucestershire as well as increase the size of one of three lakes that form part of the River Frome which flows through the grounds.

But conservationists from Historic England raised concerns the waterfall wouldn’t fit into the natural landscape at the 300-acre Georgian estate, while adding enlarging the lake would result in the loss of important green space.

The man-made waterfall, also known as a cascade, was earmarked to be built between two lakes, replacing a natural one already in place considered to be unsightly.

Have Historic England coughed up the money to purchase this estate? Has it been gifted to them? Nope, it hasn’t. It was bought, fair and square, by Dyson from the Codrington family. It’s his.

Except, it isn’t, is it? He’s not even allowed to change the damn waterfall in the middle of his park.

The next little estate down the road, Dyrham Park, is actually owned by the National Trust and thus they get to do as they wish with it. Dodington is private property except, as above, it isn’t really, is it?

So, the question becomes, how much privacy of that property do we have left? And how much of the ownership has actually been transferred to any little squirt willing to spend 20 years climbing the greasy pole of the civil services?

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Michael van der Riet
Michael van der Riet
4 years ago

Even Anglo-Saxon doesn’t have a word for these ghastly little people.

Bloke on M4
Bloke on M4
4 years ago

I’m not against covenants on property, if they’re limited, upfront and clear, and for a good reason. Like I think people who buy a bit of the Royal Crescent should keep it that way. But Historic England are generally a menace. Apart from the questions of rights, they also get in the way of development. Broken buildings (like the old Corn Exchange and the Mechanics Institute in Swindon) sit as idle, crumbling wrecks because their demands make re-purposing the buildings into restaurants or hotels non-viable. The developers want to keep most of it, but things need to be knocked through… Read more »

jgh
jgh
4 years ago

So when is the retrospective planning enforcement going to be served on Chatsworth House?

Quentin Vole
Quentin Vole
4 years ago

If you’d like to do what you want with your own property, don’t buy a Grade I listed building. There, that wasn’t too difficult, was it? If he didn’t realise the implications when he bought it, his lawyers should have explained it to him.

DP.
DP.
3 years ago

Dear Mr Worstall

If Sir James wished to make the lake smaller and add more “green space”, they would have complained about that too. Great crested newts spring to mind.

Judging by the evidence of Mr Google’s excellent satellite view, the estate doesn’t look entirely natural. I cannot see the cascade which they wish to preserve.

The parasites in organisations like Hysteric England exist solely to make everyone else’s life as miserable as their own.

Brian Trubshaw used to live next to the estate.

Hysteric England (our taxes at work, PBUI) live at The Engine House, Swindon.

DP

dodgy geezer
dodgy geezer
2 years ago

He just needs to work the system properly. The first stage is to stop telling the truth. If I were the estate consultant, I would find that the current cascade harbours bacteria dangerous to wildlife while encouraging Covid, and commission a trendy activist ‘artist’ to design a new one as I would prefer it to look, while calling it the ‘Floyd Cascade, dedicated to BLM’. Then I would find that a rare species of flamingo was not able to overwinter on the lake due to its small size, and get the RSPB to write a letter to me demanding that… Read more »

Bath Bloke
2 years ago

Please get basic facts right. There’s a 20 year gap between the Codringtons selling up and James Dyson buying.
What’s wrong with protecting historical buildings or estates for the nation even if people as current custodians own and live in them? I, along with thousands of others living in Bath, chose a Grade 11 listed house knowing there are rules to abide by. A small sacrifice for living in a special place. Dyrham Park has to abide by the rules in exactly the same way, National Trust is not exempt from Planning Laws, where did you get that idea from?!

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