Wealthy couple's £1.5m country pile turned into building site

EXCLUSIVE: Wealthy couple’s £1.5m country estate is turned into building site by firm of scaffolders next door who installed ELEVEN portacabins and a 50ft high black corrugated iron wall, blocking their view

  • Mike Tattum and Jane Bell bought their sprawling five bed home in Bishop’s Stortford, in the Herfordshire countryside six years ago
  • Originally a deer lodge for the Hadham Hall Estate, where Queen Elizabeth I was a visitor in the 16th Century, the property came with an indoor swimming pool and is set in 14 acres of land
  • Initially the couple who have four sons aged 11 to 20 were delighted with their purchase in the rural location
  • But now on they are embroiled in a bitter dispute with a scaffolding firm next door over claims the firm is operating it as a construction site 

A couple’s ‘dream’ £1.5million country home on a historic estate has been turned into a building site by a scaffolding company illegally expanding their operation next door.  

Mike Tattum and Jane Bell’s say their rural idyll at Hadham Park House in the Hertfordshire countryside has been blighted by 50ft tall black fencing, portacabins, floodlights and a stream of noisy, giant lorries driving up and down the quiet lane where they live.

Successful city analyst Mr Tattum has told how bitter planning confrontations and disputes with their ‘noisy neighbours’ have now gone all the way to the High Court. 

Mike Tattum and Jane Bell are at war with the scaffolding site next door who have built 11 portacabins and a 50ft high wall made from black corrugated iron as well a daily driving trucks up and down the country lane, spoiling their peace and quiet

The couple say that all was fine when they first bought the property in 2014, but that over the past two years the wall (pictured) has been erected as well as a large office and 11 portacabins, all without council planning permission

City analyst Mike, 55, has accused Connect Scaffolding owners of the land next door of ‘created an industrial park by stealth’. He says his views across the Hertforshire countryside have been spoiled by the erection of corrugated iron walls (pictured)

Speaking exclusively to MailOnline, despairing Mike said: ‘They have created an industrial park by stealth – and we are forced to live with the consequences.’

The couple’s ongoing dispute is with local businessman Oliver Cave who runs Connect Scaffolding from the land behind their home.

Mike, 55, and 50-year-old Jane bought their five bedroom home in the Hertfordshire countryside as a family home for them and their four sons aged 11 to 20 in 2014.   

Originally a deer lodge for the Hadham Hall Estate, where Queen Elizabeth I was a regular visitor in the 16th Century, the property came with an indoor swimming pool and is set in 14 acres of land.  

The couple say that initially relations with their neighbours were cordial. The scaffolding and equipment were previously stored well away from the house.

But two years ago the company bought more land and a number of listed storehouses right up against the back wall of their mansion.

Jane explained: ‘Within months the land directly behind and to the side of our house became a storage area for huge amounts of scaffolding, with tall ugly black fencing being erected everywhere, lighting and CCTV cameras appearing and numerous portacabins erected.

‘This was happening within view and the setting of five listed buildings on the site. We feel we have gone from having a rural countryside home to living in the middle of a huge industrial estate.

‘With the storage of scaffolding much closer to our house, we are now in earshot of clanging steel and the beeping of fork life trucks manoeuvring.

‘Historically, when we moved in, his scaffolding activity was confined to the rear of his site but over the past two years he’s moved his operations so that we have scaffolding and equipment right up to our boundary and right next to the listed buildings on his site.

‘We are surrounded by scaffolding and they’ve also erected four to six-metre tall black corrugated fencing around part of the site. All the lovely views from our back and side windows have been totally blighted.’

With planning regulations, particularly on the green belt, increasingly becoming a political issue, Mike and Jane have seen first-hand how challenging it is for homeowners to protect themselves.

They say that 11 portacabins have been built next door without planning permission. Connect Scaffolding has applied for retrospective planning permission on three of them. A retrospective planning application for storage of scaffolding has also been submitted to the planning office. 

Mike, who earlier this year underwent open heart surgery, said: ‘The entire situation has caused enormous stress and has resulted in an extremely frustrating process with the local authority, East Hertfordshire District Council.

The couple’s beautiful property (pictured) came with an indoor swimming pool, five bedrooms and is set on 14 acres of land

Mike and Jane’s dispute with with local businessman Oliver Cave who runs Connect Scaffolding and East Hertfordshire District Council began two years ago when scaffolding structures like the one above began being built

Mike and Jane say 11 portacabins have been built just over the wall behind their five bedroom home (pictured) without planning permission with Connect Scaffolding applying for retrospective planning permission on just three of them  

The couple’s tranquility is shattered on a daily basis with trucks carrying scaffolding and other building equipment driving up and down the country lane next to their family home. Connect Scaffolding which owns the property declined to comment   

‘In February 2019, our planning consultant reported various suspected breaches of planning control to the council for them to investigate. Despite meeting with Mr Cave and following up with numerous emails, he chose to continue his activities to the detriment of my family, the wider community that enjoy the rural setting and the ramblers that use the Hertfordshire Way footpath.

‘He subsequently did email me – offering to buy us out! He had made our lives hell for months and then had the audacity to offer to buy our home!

‘It took until September 2019 to be able to sit down with the council to discuss all the suspected breaches, by which time an earlier planning application submitted in July 2019 for a new office development on the site had been refused but was quickly followed by another planning application.

The couple (above) who have four sons have appealed to the council’s planning department to intervene with their gripe

‘At a meeting in December 2019 with the Council Leader, Head of the Planning department, a senior planning officer and our local councillor we said if the council were minded to grant permission for the new planning application for the office, it should be considered by the full Development Management Committee.

‘Our pleas were ignored, and planning permission was granted. We then applied to the High Court for judicial review of the council’s decision and won. The planning permission had been granted unlawfully and was quashed by the High Court. Costs were awarded in our favour.’

Mike added that the recent history of Hadham Park has been of habitual unplanned development with subsequent permission sought, either because it is too late for the council to take enforcement action, or via retrospective applications where unauthorised development has been reported to the council.

‘There has been little attempt to act within the planning framework that most of us use – where planning permission is sought before development begins,’ he said. 

He added: ‘The council is now due to redetermine the application for planning for the new office. It is also due to consider two further retrospective planning applications which we and many others in the local community wholeheartedly object to, and we appeal to the council’s Development Management Committee to take our objections on board and refuse to grant permission for the new office and the two other applications.’

Jane said: ‘We just hope that council leader Linda Haysey is true to her word. In September last year she said about another example of development without permission: ‘We take unlawful development in our district very seriously and I hope that this will deter anyone else from acting without planning permission in future.’

‘This is her opportunity to demonstrate this by refusing planning permission, protecting our countryside, protecting young families and sending a strong message to any businesses or individuals who ignore planning regulations that protect the countryside from inappropriate development.’ 

Mike told MailOnline: ‘There has been little attempt to act within the planning framework that most of us use – where planning permission is sought before development begins.’

An aerial shot of the neighbourbouring properties shows how the house Mike and Jane purchased in 2014 backs onto the area owned by Connect Scaffolding, a firm which has more than doubled in size to 200 employees in the last five years

Connect Scaffolding have been in business for more than 20 years and their clients include English Heritage’s Audley End House and builders Taylor Wimpey, Sir Robert McAlpine and Telford Homes. They boast of working for the RHS’s Chelsea Flower Show, National Lottery Show and the London Olympics 2012.

They grew from around 80 people in 2014 to more than 200 employees in 2019. 

Connect Scaffolding’s Managing Director Mr Cave declined to comment when contacted by MailOnline.

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