One of the country's richest men has had a planning application for his estate refused by Wiltshire Council.

Sir Henry Keswick, a billionaire who lives in Oare near Marlborough, was seeking permission to construct a horticultural building in the gardens of Oare Estate that would include a maintenance store, staff welfare facilities, an estate office and an attached glasshouse to cultivate vines and “possibly apricots.”

The application described businessman Sir Keswick as having “a passion for gardens” and working closely with his seven full-time gardeners on “maintaining and enhancing the formal gardens of 3.25 hectares.”

The estate is located within the North Wessex Downs Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty and is home to a Grade I listed 1740s country mansion, Oare House.

The proposal claimed that the design of the new horticultural building was in keeping with the existing greenhouses on the estate and had been carefully positioned to maintain important views.

However, the conservation officer assigned to the case noted: “The proposed building is more akin to a residential bungalow and not an outbuilding that would appear a natural, homogenous evolution of traditional garden structures on the site.”

Wiltshire Times: The design was criticised by planning officers.The design was criticised by planning officers. (Image: Savills)

According to the case officer report, the site is highly visible from the public domain.

The case officer concluded: “The development would result in an excessively large and poorly designed building that would read as an unwelcome incursion into the adjacent field, which plays an important role in the open setting of the conservation area and the setting of these designated heritage assets.”

The report added: “The application site contains, and is bounded by, mature trees that are protected by their conservation area status.

“These trees are positive features in the landscape, which also play an important role in the character and appearance of the conservation area and the setting of the neighbouring grade II listed Registered Park and Garden, the grade II listed Church of the Holy Trinity and the grade I listed Oare House.

“The application fails to demonstrate that the proposed development could be accommodated without prejudicing the welfare of these trees.”

Consequently, the planning application has been refused by Wiltshire Council.

Sir Keswick was the owner of The Spectator from 1975 to 1980 and donated £100,000 to the Conservative Party in the 2017 General Election, as well as £2,000 to Jacob Rees-Mogg and £10,000 to Devizes MP Danny Kruger in 2020.

The billionaire was number 22 on the Sunday Times Rich List in 2021.