RICHARD EDEN: Apple genius Sir Jony Ive who worked on the iPad and iMac as well as King Charles’s Coronation in furious row with country neighbours over his ‘lazy’ and ‘pretentious’ designs for historic Cotswolds mansion

He’s the design genius who brought you the iPad and iMac, earning himself a £200million fortune – and a knighthood – in the process. 

So it’s scarcely surprising that, when contemplating alterations to the historic Cotswolds mansion he snapped up last year for £17million, Sir Jony Ive should have hired Foster + Partners, the architectural practice established by Lord (Norman) Foster, a man perhaps even more acclaimed than Ive himself.

What could possibly go wrong? Well, almost everything, it seems, judging by the derision that’s greeted the resultant proposals, which seek permission for numerous internal changes to the Grade I listed house, dating from 1590, as well as the demolition of a tower and various 20th century buildings and the erasure of a tennis court and outdoor riding school.

‘The purchase of a great house comes with great responsibility – it is not a play thing,’ one local points out, before denouncing plans for a new studio and orangery as ‘lazy’ and ‘pretentious’, and adding, of a proposed service area: ‘The insensitivity of this is breathtaking.’

Sir Jony, who designed the emblem for King Charles’s Coronation, and his architects, who take care to state that their plans have involved ‘detailed discussions with Cotswold District Council and Historic England’, are then lambasted for proposing to raise the height of the walls separating the house from the village.

Apple genius Sir Jony Ive has become embroiled in a planning battle after submitting plans to make changes to a Grade I Cotswolds mansion he recently managed

Apple genius Sir Jony Ive has become embroiled in a planning battle after submitting plans to make changes to a Grade I Cotswolds mansion he recently managed

‘The listed walls must not be tampered with,’ warns an objector, who accuses Ive, 56, of seeking to turn the house ‘into a private fortress’.

It that were not enough to send the team scurrying back to the drawing board, they’ll struggle to find consolation in other comments, which describe various aspects of the plans as ‘disingenuous’, ‘beyond ludicrous’, ‘unacceptable’ and lacking any public benefit.

A proposal to install a generator inspires particular scorn and suspicion. Arguing that generators can never be completely sound-proofed, one of Ive’s neighbours notes that it was said, at a parish meeting, that the generator would be used ‘when the family ran out of power’. 

‘What does that mean?’ he asks. ‘In the event of a power cut? Or more regularly, when the conventional electricity supply is inadequate?’

But one proposal provokes more fury than all the others – Ive’s desire for an underground car park. It’s castigated by one objector as a ‘ridiculous vanity structure’ – a theme taken up by others, one of whom points out that its construction will necessitate the extraction of between 6,000 and 7,000 tons of clay, all to satisfy ‘the whim of one man’.

Pictured: British-born designer and leader of Apple's industrial design team Sir Jony Ive

Pictured: British-born designer and leader of Apple’s industrial design team Sir Jony Ive

The consequences for the surrounding single track roads will, argue several locals, destroy grass verges and cause endless delays – a hideous prospect, given that work is envisaged as taking three years to complete.

‘The application needs more thought. It should be refused and re-submitted,’ says one particularly dogged critic.

It’s quite a prospect. The current application, which is awaiting the council’s verdict, has generated 293 documents, many of them of 30 pages or more.

Sir Jony, who, despite his love of classic British cars – Aston Martins and Bentleys in particular – now puts his talents at the disposal of Ferrari, can perhaps take heart from one detail: no one’s objected to his proposal for a swimming pool.

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