Local council shows yellow card to Harry Redknapp’s Sandbanks villa dream

Opposition is making it tricky for new home plans to cross the line

Harry Redknapp appears to be learning that if there’s one thing that creates a level playing field, it’s planning permission. No matter who you are, you’re subject to the same scrutiny from planners when it comes to building a des-res.

And if Redknapp’s current application is anything to go by, we wonder if he was aware of some simple planning guidelines before he submitted plans for a new home on the prestigious Poole peninsula of Sandbanks – often referred to as Millionaire’s Row.

large CGI image of villla with driveway and carsCredit: Bournemouth, Christchurch & Poole Council
A computer generated image of Redknapp’s villa proposals

Harry’s palatial villa plans are proving problematic

Sandbanks in Poole is an area renowned for its ultra-expensive properties. And although Redknapp has previously owned and developed property in the neighbourhood, his new plans for an Italian-inspired mansion have been met with a less than favourable reaction.

Described as ‘large, ‘dominating’, ‘overbearing’ and ‘undesirable’ by neighbours, the local planning department has also queried the size, height and width of the proposed property. It has also outlined its concerns with the outbuildings (gym and garage) and external landscaping.

Plans for a modernist white-cube building had been previously approved and remain valid – meaning Redknapp could choose to proceed with them if this application is unsuccessful. But it seems this more traditional design is not yet winning any trophies.


1. Sharing tactics is crucial

Redknapp’s match secrecy doesn’t work for planning

Although my eldest son assures me Redknapp was known as a manager who liked to master the art of surprise, it’s not a wise tactic when it comes to planning applications.

Prior to applying for full planning permission, you have the option to submit an outline planning permission application. When you’ve not even purchased the property, it’s a sensible option.

According to Brian Berry, chief executive of the Federation of Master Builders: “Outline planning permission gives permission in principle. It does not give permission for the work to begin. It is useful when considering buying a house, or a piece of land, with a view to developing it.

“Outline permission enables you to get a feel for whether your plans are likely to be passed, or refused, before you go forward with a fully detailed planning proposal,” Berry adds.

Although it may add time at the outset, it can save you money and potential delays further down the line.

Speaking from experience, I also believe that having an existing or expired planning application in place can potentially lull you into a false sense of security when it comes to buying property.

When we purchased Kemeys Folly, planning permission for extensions had recently expired. Although we were not keen on these plans, the fact that we had these to fall back on if our more contemporary plans failed influenced our decision to buy.

Thankfully our new plans were accepted, but in hindsight I’ve learnt that existing permission is not a pre-cursor to a successful secondary application.

2. Know your opposition

Get your support team on side early on in the game

The key advice we’ve heard time and time again from planning experts is to always speak to the local planning officer before you submit plans.

Nicole Guler planning consultant at Urbanist Architecture tells Saga Exceptional: “Learn as much as you can before you begin. If the council still has a free duty planner service – sadly less common these days – you should give them a call.

“Check nearby planning applications on your council’s website, as well as the council’s planning application validation list,” she adds. “That will let you know if you need to hire specialists you might never have thought you would need, like archaeologists. They almost certainly won’t have to dig up the plot, just do a desk-based assessment.”

And while sharing ideas pre-match may not be essential for more standard house designs, it may have been advisable for this one. Given the nature of Redknapp’s elaborate villa with its arches, varying roof levels and generous outbuildings, we can’t help but feel earlier exposure of the team tactics board may have been wise.


3. Put your neighbours on your team sheet

Otherwise you may find them in the opposition’s defence

The same goes for communication with neighbours – especially in this case, when it seems they went through the same process around four years ago and are now facing a re-match.

Guler, telling us that: “contrary to public opinion, neighbour opposition rarely dooms a planning application, but it can make it take much longer and be much more hassle.

If you think they will be receptive, show your neighbours your designs before you submit them. If they are worried about losing light, either get your architect to do some diagrams or, if necessary, get a daylight/sunlight report done.”

Guler shares her top advice for better communication: “If you are doing something a bit out of the ordinary, check that your architect has good visuals.

“Yes, the quality of their design is most the important thing,” she says, “but you want the neighbours, the planning department and the planning committee to understand what you want, and clear, detailed photorealistic images can do a lot of that work for you.”

4. Accuracy is essential

You won’t hit the back of the net if you make mistakes

Guler is keen to impress how important it is to make sure that your plans are correct when you submit them – and to understand the planning timeline. Although some councils are beginning to introduce a pre-validation process, whereby your documents are checked for accuracy before submission, it’s not the case for every council.

“Planning applications rarely process within the eight-week timeline,” explains Guler, “which is why it’s vital to ensure your plans are all accurate at the point of submission, to help avoid further questions and requests for new drawings.

“It’s rare that you won’t be asked to revise any of the plans,” she explains, “but when you have to do it because there were discrepancies that could have been avoided, it’s unnecessary frustration for you, your client and the council.”

Redknapp’s application has differences between the CGIs and the drawings, such as the use of arched windows in CGIs compared to the drawings, all of which have been flagged by the council’s urban design team. And while VAR (video assistant referee) may not be called upon, it’s likely that spotting errors makes planners more critical when it comes to the rest of the plans.

5. Don’t assume you’re exempt from the rules

Planners are quick to present you with a red card

Just because you believe other properties have been built in a similar way to yours, it’s still important to make sure your plans adhere to any conservation rules that apply.

Although the current property that Redknapp is buying is noted as being a ‘negative contributor to the Sandbanks Conservation area’, this doesn’t give Redknapp carte blanche on the proposed replacement.

Key rules appear to have been disregarded, with the original plans exceeding the height of the neighbouring property, taking the full width of the plot and proposing external landscaping that is not necessarily in keeping with existing guidelines.

While Redknapp’s architect appears to have already adhered to most of the changes requested via the submission of revised plans, it does mean that there has already been a request to extend the application’s processing time.

The first documents are dated 31 May 2023 and the most recent 22 August, meaning the application is already in its 13th week with no end yet in sight.

And with the purchase not even completed, it seems a risky strategy that could end in a nil – nil draw if plans are not approved.

Redknapp did not respond to Saga Exceptional’s request for comment.

Sarah Harley

Written by Sarah Harley she/her


Since first picking up a paintbrush and experiencing the joy of re-decorating her bedroom in a questionable red, white and grey scheme as a young teenager, Sarah Harley was hooked on the world of interior design. This obsession even led to a real life ‘Grand Designs’ project in 2005 when she donned a pink hard hat and appeared on TV screens, project managing the renovation and extension of a Grade II listed 17th century Folly in South Wales.

Throughout her career, Sarah has gained an array of experience in several different roles, ranging from copywriting, PR, events management and photography to interior design and home staging. With her two passions being the written word and the joys of a beautifully designed home, Sarah’s mission is to open the door on the world of interiors, inviting readers in to help them work their way through the vast choice of products, ideas and trends so that their own homes can reach their full potential.

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