Charlotte Church’s house renovation features in a new show beginning on Tuesday, as the singer sets her sights on creating an energy-efficient, zero-emissions community in the Welsh countryside.
The 35-year-old has been transforming the £1.5m Rhydoldog House, a seven-bedroom mansion bought from the late fashion icon Laura Ashley, into an eco home retreat where people can "reconnect with themselves and the natural world".
But she now faces a planning challenge after her application was rejected last month by Powys County Council. As part of the renovation, Ms Church plans to convert a barn into an ancillary space and accommodation (which would be used for weddings and events), install a pond, and add vehicle passing places to provide access to the retreat.
Ms Church also plans to turn the property into an ‘off-grid commune’ which would be sustainable and have as little impact upon the environment as possible. The house currently draws 80% of its energy from an onsite hydro-mill, and Ms Church has included the installation of solar panels within her planning application to make up the other 20%.
Why Have Planners Rejected the Application?
Planning officials refused to grant her planning permission due to fears that there won’t be suitable access to the retreat from a narrow country lane, and warned there is an ‘unacceptable risk’ for drivers on the drive up to Rhydoldog House.
“It is argued that the actual vehicle movements generated by this proposal would be significantly higher than the 22 per day quoted within the transport statement,” wrote a highways official.
Concerns have also been raised by Natural Resources Wales, the environment agency, which fears that bat breeding sites and the nearby River Wye could be damaged.
What’s Next for the Project?
Having begun work in mid-2021, Ms Church had expected the work to be completed by June 2022, but it is now unclear how significantly this planning setback will impact her timeline.
Planning officers have set a deadline of 25 January for a decision on the application to be put to the local authority’s planning committee. If given the green light, the retreat will provide accommodation for a maximum of 17 guests for three or four-day residential courses, and four one-bedroom log cabins will be permitted.
Principal planner Llinos Hallett, of Asbri Planning Ltd, said in documents submitted to the council: “The client aims to restore both the buildings and the sensitive landscape setting, enhancing biodiversity and retaining and celebrating the history of the house; particularly in reference to its past ownership by the Laura Ashley family.”
You can watch Charlotte Church’s Dream Build, premiering 9pm Tuesday 11th January on Really, or stream on discovery+.
Jack has worked in journalism for 11 years and is the News Editor for Homebuilding & Renovating, a role he has had since 2019. He strives to break the most relevant and beneficial stories for self builders, extenders and renovators, including the latest news on the construction materials shortage and hydrogen heating. In 2021 he appeared on BBC's The World at One to discuss the government's planning reforms.
He enjoys testing new tools and gadgets, and having bought his first home in 2013, he has renovated every room and recently finished a garden renovation.
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