Cotswold villagers up in arms after being ‘misled’ over sale of historic green
Cotswold villagers have been left up in arms after claiming that they were being “misled” over the sale of a historic field at its centre.
Max Dyer, whose father is godfather to the Duke and Duchess of Sussex’s son, is accused of being involved in the recent purchase of a scenic 10-acre field at the heart of the sleepy village of Weston-sub-Edge in Gloucestershire.
Locals have said that the beauty spot is being “carved up” and sold off in lots and complained that nowhere in the initial marketing blitz did it mention that the plots are part of a site which includes a scheduled ancient monument.
The plots are also in an area of outstanding natural beauty, meaning they will be virtually impossible to build upon.
Flyers began appearing in the letterboxes of residents living adjacent to the field 10 days ago.
The parish council has complained that villagers may feel forced to purchase nearby plots, which typically range in size from 0.2 to 0.8 acres, to prevent developers from moving in.
The sale of two of the plots has already been agreed; it is understood that one fetched £104,000.
Villagers are also up in arms after a derelict caravan was this week dragged onto the ancient field in the middle of the night.
The formal legal purchase and now sale of the land off Church Street in Weston-sub-Edge was made by Spooner Holdings Ltd, an Isle of Man-registered company directed by George Spooner, a friend of Mr Dyer.
The Telegraph understands that Mr Dyer is linked to the sale of lots although Mr Spooner was the legal purchaser of the land.
The scheduled ancient monument status of the land at Weston-sub-Edge protects the remains of a manor house, moat and carp pools that were razed to the ground in the sixteen hundreds.
The artefacts are buried, but their outlines remain visible and typically the land is used only to graze sheep and for villagers to walk their dogs across.
Jane Saltmarsh, who lives in the current manor house, which may have been built partly from bricks taken from the old ruin, said: “Because we are a sleepy rural village, it hasn’t been fully explored archaeologically.
“It’s still talking to us.
“I’m thunderstruck that anyone would think of carving it up.”
She is among a slew of villagers who have written to the land agents overseeing the sales, Barney Agents, accusing the sellers of “misrepresenting the facts” of the land.
Weston-sub-Edge parish council wrote of “serious omissions” in the marketing.
Bill Carruthers, chairman, told The Telegraph: “We are concerned that because of what they have read they could get into this without the full information and infer that planning permission could be granted when it absolutely couldn’t.”
Barney Estates said the marketing which failed to mention the scheduled ancient monument and area of outstanding natural beauty was an “initial draft” that was later amended.
“All sales are done via an auction process, where all documentation relating to the lands’ restrictions are documented within the legal packs,” a spokesman said.
“In no way has development potential been insinuated throughout this brief marketing period.”
The agents denied any knowledge of the caravan.
Mr Spooner did not respond to an invitation to comment in his own right, and neither did Max Dyer, apart from to say that Hacking Trust does not own the land.