Captain Tom’s daughter ordered to pull down luxury spa in garden after losing appeal

The family have been given three months to remove the unauthorised building from their garden

Alex Ross
Tuesday 07 November 2023 16:15 GMT
Captain Tom Moore's daughter finally addresses controversial pool and spa

Captain Tom’s family have been ordered to pull down a luxury spa built in their garden after losing an appeal.

Hannah Ingram-Moore and her husband Colin applied in 2021 for permission to build a Captain Tom Foundation building on disused tennis courts at their home in Marston Moretaine, Bedfordshire.

The L-shaped building was given the green light, but the planning authority refused a subsequent retrospective application in 2022 for a larger C-shaped building containing a spa pool.

Captain Tom Moore with his family, including his daughter Hannah

Central Bedfordshire Council then served an enforcement notice requiring the demolition of the “now-unauthorised building” – but the family appealed and a hearing was held last month.

The Planning Inspectorate has now published its decision, dismissing the appeal, meaning the family has three months to remove the facility. Inspector Diane Fleming said the size of the partially built spa had “resulted in harm” to the family home, a Grade II-listed building.

The spa at the family home was caught in footage as part of Piers Morgan Uncensored

The case has attracted national attention due to controversy over the spending of money raised by The Captain Tom Foundation, which received more than £1m in donations in its first year after opening in 2020.

It was established after Captain Tom, who served in the Second World War, raised almost £40m for NHS charities by walking 100 laps of the family home garden before his 100th birthday during the Covid national lockdown.

Last year, The Independent revealed that £54,039 was paid from the foundation to two companies run by Ms Ingram-Moore and her husband.

And this year, Ms Ingram-Moore admitted keeping £800,000 from three books the late army veteran had written, despite the prologue of one of them suggesting the money would go to charity.

The foundation is set to be closed down amid an ongoing inquiry into its finances by the Charity Commission, according to a representative of the family.

A view of the building at the centre of the appeal. It was intended to be L-shaped but appears to have since become a larger C-shaped building

Work started on the foundation building at the family home in December 2021 – but the following month the local council discovered that it included an additional wing that wasn’t agreed as part of the approval for the development.

The council refused the retrospective application from the family for the unauthorised part of the building, which included the spa, and ordered it to be removed.

At the planning appeal hearing, attended by Ms Ingram-Moore, last month, chartered surveyor James Paynter, for the family, said the scheme had “evolved” to include the spa pool which could be used to offer rehabilitation sessions for elderly people, while the rest of the building would be used for coffee mornings and charity meetings.

Aerial pictures show the C-shaped building housing

“They felt this extra limb to create a C-shape was needed to create this facility,” he said.

But Richard Procter, planning enforcement team leader for Central Bedfordshire Council, said no information had been provided to the council about the use of the spa for the initial approved planning application.

Several neighbours attended the hearing, with one arguing that the building is “49 per cent bigger than what was consented” and was close to his property, adding: “It’s very brutal.”

In her written decision on the appeal, Ms Fleming said: “I accept that the appellant’s intentions are laudable; however, it has not been demonstrated in any detail how all of this would work in practice.

“In the absence of any substantiated information, I find the suggested public benefit would therefore not outweigh the great weight to be given to the harm to the heritage asset.”

She added: “The scale and massing of the building has resulted in harm to The Old Rectory [family home] which I find suggested conditions would not overcome.”

In an emotional interview with Piers Morgan on TalkTV aired last month, Ms Ingram-Moore said she had “regret” over the building a spa and pool complex at their £1.2m home. “We have to accept that we made a decision, and it was probably the wrong one,” she said.

Captain Tom, who was knighted by the late Queen during a unique open-air ceremony at Windsor Castle in the summer of 2020, died in February 2021.

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