What could happen next?

The second retrospective planning application for the tree houses and tennis courts could be considered as early as this month by the Runnymede planning committee.

The owner of the Fairmont Windsor hotel now owns a vast amount of land in Englefield Green and offers have been made to purchase more. The hotel brand is called Fairmont Hotels and Resorts. So, all this countryside could be built on too, in order to create a resort. Building a resort will mean the loss of more Green Belt countryside.


Runnymede Borough Council was generous in allowing the demolition of the Savill Court hotel, in 2017, and its replacement with a much larger hotel and in also granting planning permission for a new, larger mansion next door, Oaklands Park.  Few objected to all this building in the Green Belt, despite the size.  However, many residents have become very concerned about the subsequent scale of unlawful building, without planning permission, especially on Dell Park, and repeat retrospective planning applications.

We are particularly concerned that the retrospective planning applications for the unlawfully extended Fairmont Windsor Park hotel and for the extensive unlawful building on the neighbouring land could create new, dangerous precedents, if granted. The Council has supported all planning applications and retrospective planning applications by the Arora Group since 2016, regardless of how much the Green Belt has been harmed.

Planning application for the tree houses and tennis courts RU:22/1819 – click to read

Englefield Green Village Residents Association objection letter – click to read

We want to see proper enforcement action in relation to all the unlawful building on Dell Park and at the Fairmont Windsor Park hotel site. We want resolutions which do not set dangerous new precedents that could result in unscrupulous developers trashing the Green Belt.

The Fairmont Windsor Park hotel was built much larger than the planning permission.  The Arora Group have offered to offset only about half of this, by demolishing derelict buildings over a kilometre away. Nothing has been offered to offset an unlawfully built car park, road or hardstanding and there are no proposals to even replant all the trees removed for this unlawful construction.

The following map shows Dell Park at the top, the Fairmont Windsor Park hotel in the middle and Oaklands Park mansion at the bottom. The red on this map shows unlawful construction on Dell Park and unlawful additions to the Fairmont Windsor Park hotel, without planning permission. The orange shows extra tarmac around the Fairmont Windsor Park hotel that didn’t have planning permission either. Blue shows buildings and hardstanding that’s been built with planning permission. There has been a huge amount of unlawful building in this stretch of Green Belt. (The barn that’s supposed to have been demolished is in yellow.)

The following image shows the old Oaklands Park mansion on the left and the new one under construction.

The unlawfully dumped spoil on Oaklands Park fields included soil from building the massive two-storey hotel basement, as well as the spoil from the new Oaklands Park mansion. Even today, demolition waste, plastics and electrical cables have been left sticking out of the ground. We don’t know what else it might contain. Planning conditions to limit the height of the spoil to 0.8m and replant as a wildflower meadow were ignored.

Trees with preservation orders were cut down, along with other mature woodland on Dell Park and on the hotel site to build four tree houses without planning permission.  A fifth is still under construction. As can be seen in this photograph, they are not treehouses, they are built on metal girders sunk into concrete, some of which has compromised the roots of the remaining trees.

There was a badger sett near the unlawful construction; dead badgers have been seen since, out in the open, which is quite unusual.

There’s lots of other unlawful construction on Dell Park, including:

A row of pipes, some in concrete, have been laid across Dell Park presumably for more unlawful construction, with new planting which will grow to conceal whatever is built – what will this be? The latest retrospective planning application says the Arora Group will build a golf zone and children’s adventure area next.

It looks like part of the land behind the hotel lake is now used as a junk yard, also without planning permission, as seen in this photograph.

Planning conditions, in the original planning permission, to replant trees of different species after over 50 mature trees were removed to build the new hotel seem to have been largely ignored.

Planning conditions to install electric vehicle charging points seem to have been mostly ignored.

Planning conditions to protect habitat seem to have been ignored.

Planning conditions to design lights for protected species seem to have been ignored.

So we can see that there has been a vast amount of unlawful building in the Green Belt without planning permission. And where planning permission has been granted, planning conditions seem to have been ignored.

What has Runnymede Borough Council done?

Planning permission was first granted in 2016 to refurbish and extend the old Savill Court hotel, then in 2017 to demolish and rebuild it much bigger, then, in 2018, to build it even larger. Planning permission was given to rebuild Oaklands Park much larger than the old mansion and while it was still a building site to extend it by another 30 per cent. The old mansion was supposed to be demolished, but after two years it was still on site and residents had to make a formal complaint. A double barn was supposed to have been demolished, but after six years it was still on site and residents had to make a formal complaint. The Council did not notice these planning breaches.

The Council gave retrospective planning permission for the huge volume spoil dumped on Oaklands Park and for the installation of a large neon sign outside the hotel. The Council supported a retrospective planning application for four tree houses built in woodland, after trees were removed, on Dell Park. The Council were directly questioned by a residents’ group if the hotel was too large and stated it wasn’t. The Englefield Green Village Residents Association had to make a formal complaint before the Council finally agreed to investigate and accepted that it was larger than permitted. Throughout, it has been residents and not the Council that have noted planning breaches, whilst the Council has supported all retrospective planning applications for all the unlawful building.

The Council fully supported the unlawful construction of the tree houses, saying the Arora Group would, overall, improve the Green Belt by, in particular, removing mobile horse shelters and three wooden caravans on wheels, when it seems there was only ever one of them and planning guidelines say these generally aren’t buildings. 

The Council also said the Arora Group had improved the Green Belt by removing some wooden stables despite them being replaced by a much larger, concrete, 68-space car park.  It looks like a row of trees, each 17m tall, was removed to create this and areas identified, in habitat plans, as of special importance for invertebrates and hedgehog hibernation seem to have been concreted over too.  We cannot understand how the Council didn’t notice this on site visits.

The Council did issue an enforcement notice which requires the Fairmont Windsor Park hotel to comply with its planning permission by October 2024. Having ignored repeated requests to investigate if the hotel was too large, for over two years, the Council were up against the four-year rule and it seems that it had little choice but to issue an enforcement notice.

The Council fully supported the retrospective planning application for the oversized Fairmont Windsor Park Hotel, despite serious concerns about the information provided by the Arora Group and serious concerns about a dangerous, new planning precedent.

What has Runnymede Council not done?

The Council has not issued enforcement notices for the 68-space car park or the tarmac road built on Dell Park, which were identified during its investigation into the oversized hotel. Nor has it required the additional tarmac added all around the hotel, that does not have planning permission, to be removed.

The Council has not taken enforcement action against two of the tree houses which are on the hotel site, despite its recent investigation into the hotel. The site only has permission for one building, a very large hotel.

The Council has not taken enforcement action against the use of Dell Park garden as a hotel business, hosting functions and being used as a sporting business, with non-hotel guests using the padel-tennis.

The Council has not taken action against any of the breaches of planning conditions, even though these have been formally reported by residents. This includes the spoil being dumped much higher than permitted, the inclusion of demolition waste, including plastics, and the failure to replant it as a wildflower meadow.

The Council did not issue any fines when trees with preservation orders were cut down on Dell Park.

The Council have taken no enforcement action in relation to various planning conditions which do not seem to have been met, for example in relation to replanting trees, EV charging points or the design of lights for protected species.

What have residents done?

Residents reported that the Parkwood house was still on site two years after it was supposed to have been demolished

Residents objected that the hotel was too big, but were ignored in complaints via the Englefield Green Forum and complaints in objection letters until the Residents Association employed a planning consultant to write up concerns and made a formal complaint. Only then did the Council investigate

Residents reported that the double barn was still on the Oaklands site, six years after planning permission for the new mansion was granted and it was supposed to have been removed. These reports were also ignored until the Residents Association made a formal complaint.

Residents reported the illegal removal of trees and unlawful construction of tree houses. Planning officers will have passed this development every time they made a site visit to the hotel construction site. More woodland would have been lost and another six houses would have been built if it wasn’t for residents:

Fairmont Windsor Park Launches Luxury Treehouse Collection In Partnership With Blue Forest

So, yet again, residents are leading the charge. We want all the planning breaches properly investigated and appropriate action taken. We want to protect the Green Belt, the environment and our legacy to the next generation.