ODPM snubs Countryside’s plans to build 191 houses in grounds of stately home, famous for Profumo affair

Deputy prime minister John Prescott has snubbed plans by developer Countryside Properties for a housing scheme that would have revamped one of England’s most famous stately homes.

Prescott announced last week that he had decided to refuse a joint application by the National Trust and Countryside to build 191 homes in the grounds of Cliveden House, in the south Buckinghamshire green belt.

Cliveden was built in 1851 and became the seat of Astor family, who owned The Observer. It became notorious in the early 1960s when call girl Christine Keeler met war minister John Profumo at one of Lord Astor’s house parties, initiating the sex scandal that rocked Harold Macmillan’s government.

Astor’s family later gave the house to the National Trust, which came up with the housing development as a way of finding the estimated £20m needed for its maintainence and upkeep.

Countryside was selected by the trust to develop the derelict Canadian Red Cross Hospital in Cliveden’s grounds.

The 191 homes included 42 Thames Valley Housing Association shared ownership and social rented dwellings, which were included to remedy the area’s lack of affordable dwellings.

The house became notorious in the 1960s when Christine

Keeler met John Profumo

The trust claims that the hospital is the largest housing site being considered in south Buckinghamshire.

ECD Architects had designed the scheme, in which all of the homes complied with the Eco Homes’ standard.

However, Prescott ruled that the scheme was an “inappropriate development”. He accepted his inspector’s conclusion that the development of such an isolated site would generate an unacceptable volume of traffic.

The decision comes after Prescott ruled in favour of developments at Potters Field near Tower Bridge and the controversial 50-storey Vauxhall Tower on the south bank of the Thames in London.

Countryside was not available for comment.