Star Trek actor Sir Patrick Stewart is opposing what he has described as an “elitist” plan to turn an airfield near Chipping Norton into holiday homes and a classic car museum.
Peter Mullin, an American millionaire, has lodged £56 million plans to build 28 holiday lodges, a corporate hospitality building and a “world-class classic and collector car museum” on Enstone airfield.
Sir Patrick, who has a home near the site, has written to West Oxfordshire district council to object to the proposals.
The 77 year-old, who grew up in poverty in Jarrow in the North East of England, said the construction would cause disruption to those living in the area and makes no mention of affordable housing.
“There is also too much of a commercial and elitist aspect to all this: fabulously expensive historic cars, Bentley cars showroom and houses costing five or six million pounds. This is a greenfield site and there is no mention of affordable housing,” Sir Patrick said. “The developer is a multimillionaire and is on record as saying that if there were local objections he would at once seek another site. He should.”
According to the Times, Sir Patrick said the area was of “notable beauty [and] tranquillity and is accessible to all”.
The site of the proposed building work is in close proximity to Sir Patrick’s country residence, where the acclaimed actor lives with his third wife, 39-year-old singer-songwriter Sunny Ozell.
Drawings for Mullin’s museum show a large glass-fronted building looking out over a garden and lake.
They also show a line of cars outside a building described as the “Bentley Pavilion”, while there will be a north and south residential zone for holiday lodges.
Mullin’s proposals describe him as “a renaissance man with a wide range of interests”, adding he was born in 1941 and is married with six children.
The application says: “For the past several years, the Mullins have travelled to Oxfordshire, England, and are taken with the beauty, history and warmth of its residents. They look forward to purchasing a home in the housing development proposed and in sharing their magnificent collection with the people of the United Kingdom.”
The plans suggest a £20 entry fee for adults, anticipating 124,000 visitors a year and a pre-tax profit of £1.3 million. The plan claims the project will contribute to the museum sector and to the restoration of nearby Great Tew House.
Other residents have also objected.
Sir Patrick is making a name for himself as a campaigner, having recently joined an anti-Brexit bus on a national tour around the UK. The bus is calling for people to consider the impact of leaving the EU.
Sir Patrick was heckled for being “anti-democratic” during a speech in which he said: “The first time I was on the continent after the [EU] referendum it was on the colourful streets of Ghent and Bruges. I felt distinctly uncomfortable, bordering on shame, that my country was now seeking to unravel all that had been achieved [by the EU].”
DealMakerz reckons Sir Patrick could be disappointed on both fronts. The Brexit ship has already sailed, and the government has recently demonstrated a fairly lax attitude towards protecting the environment.
In November, London Mayor Sadiq Khan announced he would relax planning rules that protect local character to help to boost the capital’s supply of housing.