Decade-long fight over seaside 'castle' returns to planners

Arcady in Holt Road, Cley. Pictures: David Bale

Arcady in Holt Road, Cley. Pictures: David Bale - Credit: Archant

It is a saga which seems to have been running longer than the average West End show.

But a decade-long planning row over a controversial home built by a London theatre producer in a picturesque coastal Norfolk village could be entering its final act.

The modernist property in Cley, called Arcady, has been branded a "dystopian castle" by locals who claim it was built without the correct planning permission.

The row will return to the North Norfolk District Council (NNDC)'s development committee next week, when councillors will consider new plans which would see significant alterations carried out to the building.

The property, which also features a swimming pool, is owned by Adam Spiegel - whose company has produced West End shows including Hairspray, The Mousetrap and Motown the Musical - and his wife Gay. 

Plans for the home were first submitted and rejected a decade ago. However, the scheme was approved in 2014, following an appeal the government's Planning Inspectorate. 

But since then, NNDC’s planning officers have alleged the home was not built to the approved plans, forcing the couple to submit new planning applications. 

Most Read

Two applications are due to be heard by the council next week. Both are recommended for refusal.

One application will replace a drawing from their original bid, which was permitted after the 2014 appeal.

Above, an image of how Arcady currently looks, and below, showing some of the proposed changes,

Above, an image of how Arcady currently looks, and below, showing some of the proposed changes, including the removal of a ramp and changing the height of some sections of the roof. - Credit: Planning documents

But objectors claim the substitute drawing shows the building "as it now stands" and not as it was allowed on appeal

The second application is for entirely new planning permission and would result in changes being carried out to the building.

While officers said the changes amounted to a "significant revision" and showed a willingness for remediation, however, NNDC has argued it does not go far enough.

The changes include brick inserts to break up the wood panelling on the walls, and a reduction in the property's height.

Officers acknowledge the application tries to bring the home closer to the plans approved by the Planning Inspectorate but branded it “largely cosmetic” and lacking real impact on overall mass and height.

The plans have seen objections lodged from 31 members of the public as well as two parish councils, the Norfolk Coast Partnership, landscape and conservation officers and County Hall’s historic environment team. 

NNDC officers said the main issues with the site remained the impact of the dwelling on the surrounding area, which is part of the Cley Conservation Area. 

When the plans were lodged in May last year, neighbours criticised the plans.

Arcady in Holt Road, Cley, which is owned by theatre director Adam Spiegel, has caused outrage local

Arcady in Holt Road, Cley, which is owned by theatre director Adam Spiegel, has caused outrage locally Pictures: David Bale - Credit: Archant

Tim Ambler, who lives nearby, said the proposals would be like adding "lipstick to a pig".

Mr Ambler said: "Cley is in an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty with a much-visited medieval church just across the road. Visitors have been as appalled as residents of the Glaven Valley by the imposition of this ugly structure."

Another described them as looking like a "dystopian castle".

What’s going on at Arcady? 

The first planning application for the site was put in by the Spiegels in 2012.

The following year, NNDC rejected the couple's bid to build a two-storey house and swimming pool on Holt Road as the design was "inappropriate" for Cley Conservation Area. 

A year later, the decision was overturned by the Planning Inspectorate, with permission granted on the condition the development had to be carried out following the drawings in the original plan. 

A view towards Arcady from the village green in Cley. 

A view towards Arcady from the village green in Cley. - Credit: Planning documents

The council received a complaint that the home was not being built to the approved scheme and it asked that work stop on the site for the height to be reduced. Work continued on the site.

In August 2019, the council served an enforcement notice on the couple to demolish all the buildings on site because the development was "materially different" to the approved plan and of "increased scale, height and mass".

The owners then appealed to the Planning Inspectorate again and entered into a mediation process with the council.  

A fresh planning application was also submitted to NNDC. 

The appeal to the planning inspectorate was ‘stayed’ and is due to be heard in June.