Village unrest over castle owner’s plan

Compton Castle

The multi-millionaire owner of Compton Castle in south Somerset has caused disquiet in the village with plans to build a garage.

Bill Hopkins, 72, made a fortune in concrete before selling his Wincanton-based business to Tarmac in 2018. But he also has a property and development company and owns homes in Compton Pauncefoot where he bought the castle for £6.5m in 2015.

Hopkins Estates has applied to build a new access, garage, workshop and ‘ancillary’ works on land adjacent to a cottage at 18 New Road recently purchased by Hopkins. The cottage is opposite School House, another Hopkins property.

The project would give better access to a septic tank in the field, said to be connected to eight properties, as well as creating off-road parking for two cars at the cottage. At present, cars have to park on the narrow road.

But the land is in a conservation area and is classed as agricultural, which would require a change of planning use. It is also overlooked by other houses in the village, including that of Angela Shaw’s home at Martha’s House.
She has objected to South Somerset District Council saying the proposed change of use from agricultural is “an uncomfortable precedent for a small country village like Compton Pauncefoot.” She also questions what ancillary works means, and whether it is an active septic tank.

“I believe it is a cess pit that does not require servicing,” she writes, “which would not justify building an access road from the already narrow single file road.”

Another neighbour said: “We as a village are troubled. If Hopkins gets this road, we fear he will build more houses off the road in the field.”

There is no suggestion in the planning application that it will include houses.
It is proposed to build a double height car port with a homeworking office space above, designed from an oak timber frame structure with red tile pitched roof.

The New Blackmore Vale emailed Hopkins Estates for a comment but has not received a reply.

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