Neighbours’ victory in row over princes’ polo ground
PRInCeS William and harry, as well as model elle Macpher-son, have all played chukkas at London’s last remaining polo ground. But now, I hear, the divots are flying at the exclusive ham Polo Club after its bid to build a new all-weather arena was rejected by planners. It follows a backlash from its well-heeled neighbours including Lady Annabel Goldsmith, the socialite mother of Tory minister Lord Goldsmith.
The application drew more than 200 objections from residents, who warned it would have a disastrous impact on the protected landscapes by the Thames within sight of the Grade I-listed ham house.
Central to the plan was the building of a 5ft board fence around the new arena, interrupting views. It’s required for a winter form of polo, where players bounce a leather ball off the boundary as part of the game.
There has been long-running antag-onism between the operators of the club and local residents, who accuse it of effectively shutting them out.
In a letter of objection, one resident suggested the new fence was designed ‘so that the toffs don’t need to be seen by hoi polloi when playing in the sand with the horses’.
The club argued that the new arena would allow it to operate all year round, meaning more people could be invited from the local community, such as schools. how-ever, conductor Adam Gatehouse said there was no evidence for this.
Council planning officers recommended approval for the scheme, subject to conditions. however, councillors on the planning committee overwhelmingly rejected the application, arguing the harm outweighed any benefits.