Churchill's Blenheim Estate goes to war with locals alloment plan

We will fight them on the PATCHES! Villagers go to war with Churchill’s birthplace Blenheim Estate over plan for 45 homes on their prized allotment

  • Green-fingered locals angry over plan to concrete over 70-year-old allotments 
  • Villagers also claim they have been kept in the dark about the development
  • Palace denied this and suggested some planning leaflets were eaten by a dog

Villagers have declared war on Winston Churchill’s birthplace Blenheim Palace over a plan to build 45 homes on their prized allotment. 

Green-fingered locals say Blenheim Estates plan to concrete over part of their patch in Cassington, Oxfordshire would destroy the ‘green beating heart’ of their 750-strong community. 

Users of the allotments, which have been used for more than 70 years, also claim they have been kept in the dark about the plans and have been given just a few days to object. 

Green-fingered locals say Blenheim Estates plan to concrete over part of their patch in Cassington, Oxfordshire would destroy the ‘green beating heart’ of their 750-strong community

Blenheim says it sent leaflets to villagers but admits they were not all delivered – in one case because of a ‘large dog on the loose’. 

Villagers are unhappy that they have been given until just October 12 to send in comments regarding the proposals before the local parish and district councils decide whether to give their go-ahead. 

In a statement, angry Good Life gardeners from the Cassington Allotment Association said ‘The allotments have been providing healthy food for families for more than 70 years.

‘They create a sense of being part of the community, allowing senior citizens and families to mix and enabling the plot growers to share their experience in producing vegetables and fruit.

‘This has been especially important for the mental health and wellbeing of allotment holders throughout the Covid crisis and represents a highly sustainable model of village living.

‘The allotment is the green beating heart of the village. The prospect of a significant housing development destroying two thirds of the allotment is crushing for people who have cultivated this land for decades.’   

Villagers have declared war on Blenheim Estates over the plans, which will soon be considered by the local council 

Blenheim chief executive Dominic Hare rejected claims villagers had not been properly informed about the plans. 

He said: ‘Landowners get criticised for not consulting before applying for planning permission but this is not the case here.

‘We have attended meetings, we have been discussing this opportunity for over a year, I remember talking about it at a meeting with the parish council a year ago.

‘We have held a number of structured interviews with a cross-section of villagers and all of that contributed to this design brief, this consultation is simply the next stage sharing the results of what has gone before.

‘This is an exceptional opportunity to provide a number of truly affordable homes, all or almost all of this site will be Blenheim affordable housing, which will all be Passivhaus-certified eco-homes almost completely eliminating heating bills.’ 

Blenheim was the home of the Churchill family for the next 300 years, and was the birthplace of former Prime Minister Winston Churchill in 1874

Users of the allotments, which have been used for more than 70 years, claim they have been kept in the dark about the plans and have been given just a few days to object

Villagers have also raised concerns that the site, a few hundred yards from the confluence of the River Evenlode and the River Thames, is ‘effectively a flood plain’ and the new homes will be swamped when there’s heavy rain and rising water levels.

Mr Hare confirmed there was ‘a problem with surface water last year which will have to be resolved whatever happens’.

Blenheim Estate stretches over 12,000 acres of countryside, and the famous palace is about four miles from Cassington. 

The plan by Blenheim – where Sir Winston was born in 1900 – comes as the Government wrestles with the debate about building tens of thousands of new homes on the Green Belt.  

Blenheim Palace: Churchill’s birthplace and site of 18th-century mansion given as a gift to the first Duke of Marlborough following his victory over the French

Pictured: Former Prime Minister Winston Churchill, who was born at Blenheim Palace, Oxfordshire in 1874

The land on which Blenheim Palace stands was given as a gift to John Churchill, the first Duke of Marlborough, following his military triumphs against the French and Bavarians in the War of the Spanish Succession. 

Construction began on the palace, named after the Battle of Blenheim, in 1705 with financial support from Queen Anne, but the Crown cancelled investment on the project in 1712 after it became the subject of political infighting. 

The palace was completed in 1722, characterised by ‘an eclectic style and a return to national roots.’ 

Blenheim was the home of the Churchill family for the next 300 years, and was the birthplace of former Prime Minister Winston Churchill in 1874. 

Throughout its past, various members of the family have made changes to the interiors, surrounding parks and gardens, before it was saved from ruin by the 9th Duke of Marlborough’s marriage to US railroad heiress Consuelo Vanderbilt in 1895. 

The country house, which features a romantic park curated by landscape gardener Capability Brown, was named a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1987.

Blenheim, designed by John Vanbrugh, is described by UNESCO as ‘a perfect example of an 18th-century princely dwelling.’

The agency added: ‘In tangible form, Blenheim is an outstanding example of the work of John Vanbrugh and Nicholas Hawksmoor, two of England’s most notable architects. 

‘It represents a unique architectural achievement celebrating the triumph of the English armies over the French, and the Palace and its associated Park have exerted great influence on the English Romantic movement which was characterised by the eclecticism of its inspiration, its return to natural sources and its love of nature.’  

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