Victoria and David Beckham, the British couple famous for their careers in fashion, football and pop, have become embroiled in a furious argument with their neighbors over plans to dig a 45,000-square-foot ornamental lake in their garden.
The couple live in a historic country home on a small single-lane road just a few hundred yards from the entrance to Soho Farmhouse, the country outpost of the members-only club Soho House.
The club is already unpopular with many locals in the nearby village of Great Tew, who snipe that DFLs—“down from Londons”—speed inconsiderately in huge numbers through the village and its environs. In the complicated politics of the village, there are others who support the club, enjoy its lavish facilities and welcome it as an employer.
When Meghan and Harry rented a property in Great Tew, they became the topic of irritation among those who argue that the village has been overwhelmed by the influx of celebrities.
Some of that irritation has now been projected on to the Beckhams, who bought their $8 million home several years ago.
The Beckhams have already won a series of planning battles with their neighbors as they have converted a traditional farmhouse into a 21st-century luxury hidey-hole, complete with a guard house, wine cellar, and sauna.
They were previously granted permission to create a 28,000-square-foot ornamental lake in their garden but have now asked West Oxfordshire District Council if they can increase the size of the lake and add an artificial island.
The Beckhams promise the new larger lake will increase biodiversity in the area, saying the proposals to enlarge the lake will re-create a classic English meadow scene.
In a design statement reported by the Daily Telegraph they said the lake would be surrounded by dozens of different types of grass, wildflowers, shrubs, bushes, and trees, adding: “The mix will flower all summer long, giving bees, hoverflies, and butterflies a feast of nectar and pollen.”
The lake will also have an underground chamber—known as a hibernacula—to help support reptiles, amphibians and hedgehogs.
However some locals are not convinced by the merits of the plan and fear that having a huge body of water on their doorstep could lead to flooding.
The Telegraph reports that one objector named Sue Jones wrote in a letter to the district council: “I must object in the strongest terms to this new proposal. I feel that his plan to enlarge the lake could increase the chances of flooding in the area considerably.”
“I was an objector to the original plan and my concerns were ignored,” Jones wrote in her letter: “The lake looks just too large for the area it sits in. It is out of keeping with the area and what is planned next? Motor boats zooming up and down and shattering the peace? It is just not on and should not be allowed.”
Another neighbor also criticized the plans, accusing the couple of “trying to bring suburbia to the countryside.”
Other residents have called the lake “ugly,” “monstrous,” and “out of keeping” with its surroundings, the paper reports.
West Oxfordshire District Council is due to make its decision on the extension to the lake in the New Year.