Richard Hammond wants to turn barn at £2m castle into 'party venue'

EXCLUSIVE: Richard Hammond wants to turn 200-year-old barn at his £2m Cotwolds castle into ‘party venue’ with new pool, bar and room to showcase star’s impressive motorbike collection

  • The former Top Gear host and his wife Mindy have submitted plans to renovate a barn at their property that dates back to the 15th Century
  • The TV favourite, nicknamed The Hamster, want to upgrade an adjoining barn with five luxury bedrooms to house family and friends  
  • He also wants to have a bar and a glazed extension to link a dining room at the property to a room showcasing his motorcyles 
  • The couple bought their historic castle near Ross-on-Wye, Gloucestershire, in 2008 for £2m, then a neighbouring property for £1.2m in 2014 

Richard Hammond and his wife Mindy (above) bought their castle near Ross-on-Wye, Gloucestershire, for £2m in 2008

Former Top Gear presenter Richard Hammond is turning a 200-year-old barn on his £2m country estate into a party venue.

Hammond, 49, has applied for planning permission to use the Grade II listed building to entertain friends and put them up for the night.

The barn is to get a Grand Designs-style makeover if planners give it the go ahead. It will have five luxury bedrooms, swimming pool, bar and gym.

The Grand Tour presenter, nicknamed the Hamster, also plans to build a glazed extension to link a dining room to a display room to show off his impressive collection of fast motorbikes.

Neighbours and conservation chiefs at Historic England have made no objections for the changes at the historic Bollatree Castle in the Herefordshire countryside.

In papers filed at the local council, his planning agent Mark Watson said: ‘The proposal primarily involves providing additional sleeping accommodation on the first floor, with alterations to the ground floor to provide space for entertaining guests.

‘The swimming pool is reduced in size and the gym relocated to the southern end of the barn.

The couple have recently submitted a planning application for the property (above) to upgrade a 200-year-old ban with a bar, sleeping accommodation for five people, a gym and a new pool  

The couple’s barn (pictured) will be subject to a ‘Grand Designs-style’ makeover if approved

A swimming pool (above) currently housed in the barn is set to be reduced as part of the plans

In plans submitted with the Hammonds’ local council, the family has proposed turning the Grade II listed barn adjoining the house into an entertaining space for friends and family 

‘A glazed extension provides a link between the dining area and the motorbike display room.’

Mr Watson said the extension is ‘modest in scale’ and not visible from the main house where Hammond lives with wife Mindy and their two children.

The application to Hereford Council states: ‘The proposal has been designed as a minimal intervention , bringing light into the middle of the barn while being recessive to the main structure.

‘Internally, it is proposed to remove a section of modern floor structure to create a double height dining space with a simple detailed oak gallery providing access to the first floor.’

Hammond’s plans also include a bigger conservatory, a new glazed kitchen and boot room, and a secondary stairway between the ground and first floors.

The couple, who bought a neighbouring property to their 15th Century castle for £1.2million in 2014, last year angrily denied that they had been burgled and that thieves had ransacked it  

As part of the renovations, the much-loved TV host plans to build a glazed extension to link a dining room to a display room to show off his impressive collection of fast motorbikes (above)

People living close to the Hammonds’ Cotswolds property haven’t complained over a conversion to the barn (above) saying they have never been kept up by late night music there

Wildlife experts were called in to survey the bat population at the barn but there were not enough of the creatures to prevent the conversion going ahead.

Locals have given the project the go-ahead saying they’ve never been disturbed by late night loud music or noise coming from the TV presenter’s country pile.

One villager said: ‘Apart from a few fireworks going off at New Year, we hardly hear a peep out of them.

Hammond, 49, is one of Britain’s best known TV faces with Top Gear and The Grand Tour 

‘He and his wife have people come and stay – you see nice cars going and going and he’s not in them.

‘I’ve hardly ever seen him and he’s lived here a good few years now.

‘He doesn’t bother anyone, he’s got all the privacy in the world behind the castle walls.’

Bollattree Castle dates back to the 15th century and was the home of a wealthy merchant. The castle walls were not added until the 18th century.

The building has gargoyles, a stable yard and stands in 20 acres of gardens which are occasionally thrown open to the public.

The outer walls of the castle are crumbling in places and the small panes of an arched widow have been smashed.

But the battlements hide a desirable manor house where Hammond has spent millions on a Grand Designs-style makeover.

Villagers are proud of having a celebrity living in the village and spending a fortune on the historic folly.

The castle is protected by an overgrown moat, 12ft high hedges and an imposing wrought-iron gate with an intercom to Hammond’s house.

Hammond’s planning agent insisted the proposals were ‘modest in scale’ as the TV host’s neighbours seemed overwhelmingly positive about the plans

Locals described it as ‘like Fort Knox’ after reports of an attempted break-in last year.

One woman, who lives nearby and didn’t want to be named, said: ‘I didn’t know he’s made a planning application., there’s been no chat about it.

‘Let him get on with it, that’s what I say.’

Planners at Herefordshire Council are expected to make a decision later this month.

Hammond’s proposals come just days after fellow Grand Tour presenter Jeremy Clarkson presenter sparked uproar over plans for a farm shop at his Cotswolds country estate.

And fellow presenter James May has seen work stalled on his new £3.5million pad in Hammersmith, west London, after planners turned down his plans for a car and bike collection.

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