The house that Hugo is building gets go-ahead after protests
Monday 23 December 2002
The outgoing chief executive of the Belgian beer giant Interbrew is pressing ahead with plans to build Canada's biggest private residence after overcoming protests from neighbours about the design of the house.
Hugo Powell, who surprised the brewing world on Friday with news of his early retirement, was forced to scale back the original design for his Ontario mansion after some of the more grandiose elements upset residents. The designs for the house, described by one Interbrew source as a "personal dream" for Mr Powell, replicate in part a castle lived in by Anne Boleyn, Henry VIII's second wife. The property will be a fraction smaller than the White House.
Work has started on the estate – christened Chelster Hall after the Interbrew boss's two golden retrievers. The estate is located on 10 acres of land in Oakvillle, close to Toronto on the shores of Lake Ontario. The main house will be 48,000 square feet, down from an original 54,322 square feet. Among the casualties at a planning inquiry earlier this year were a 91ft centre tower and a stone "hedge" which neighbours objected to because it would have blocked their views of the lake shore.
Other features of the estate include 5,000 square feet of outbuildings, taking in a chapel, a gatehouse, a boathouse, greenhouses and a tennis pavilion. Mr Powell's neighbours finally backed down from their initial hostile stance after deciding that the park-like view would enhance their own properties, according to local reports.
Although the three houses that originally occupied the land destined for Mr Powell's new home have been demolished and new sewage facilities have been installed, a source in the building department of Oakville town municipality says no application for a building permit has yet been received. "Approval for the [modified] design went through without any opposition" he added.
Mr Powell, 58, is renowned for his ostentatious taste. Born in India but educated at the British public school, Charterhouse, Mr Powell is an Anglophile and named his six-year-old daughter from his second marriage Britany. However, he has decided to retire in Canada, where he worked for the brewers Labatt before it was taken over by Interbrew and where he is naturalised.
The Chelster Hall property combines elements of British and Dutch architecture and was inspired by designs Mr Powell had enjoyed during his business trips.
He will be replaced at Interbrew by John Brock, formerly chief operating officer at Cadbury Schweppes.
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