FURIOUS residents are demanding an apology from council chiefs for letting a "ghastly" £12 million mansion be built on Streatley Hill.
Protesters against the development of Wood Cottage are angry that West Berkshire Council used delegated powers to grant permission for the 13,000 sq.ft home rather than a planning committee.
Dornie Olins, who lives on Bridleway, Goring, said: "The blame has to lie with the council because they are supposed to be guardians of our heritage. We would like an apology from chief executive Nick Carter and, in a perfect world, to see it torn down. This is still a fight worth fighting."
The mansion, which will have six bedrooms, seven bathrooms, its own private cinema, indoor pool and staff quarters, replaces a two story derelict house, bungalow and recording studio. Rumours are rife in the village that it could be former Spice Girl Geri Halliwell’s next home.
Brenda Cherrington, joint MD of M A Cherrington Ltd, the agent handling the construction, explained that approval was given for a larger development on the site in 2003. The planning officer who reviewed the application for the mansion in 2007 took the previous permission into account and found it acceptable.
"There was already consent for a very large property to be built on the land, but it wasn’t the design our client wanted. He therefore came up with new plans, which were smaller," said Mrs Cherrington. "The planners are just following policy. We understand that some people may not like the design, but that’s a subjective opinion."
A council spokesman said: "A large number of applications are dealt with by delegated powers. The criteria for an application to be considered by committee is 10 letters of objection, or "call in" to committee by the ward member or adjacent district councillor. This did not happen for either of these applications therefore it is the normal process that delegated powers be used."