'Beckingham Palace' in Boxford

A SOCCER boss has defended the design of a mansion he is building in the middle of rural Suffolk.Keith Martin's new, luxury, country home beside a busy main road has sparked controversy and been hailed in some quarters as Suffolk's equivalent of David Beckham's pad in the Home Counties - nicknamed Beckingham Palace.

A SOCCER boss has defended the design of a mansion he is building in the middle of rural Suffolk.

Keith Martin's new, luxury, country home beside a busy main road has sparked controversy and been hailed in some quarters as Suffolk's equivalent of David Beckham's pad in the Home Counties - nicknamed Beckingham Palace.

But Mr Martin, a self-made multi-millionaire, cited full support of planning officers and claimed the design of his new home successfully reflects the appearance of a cluster of traditional brick, farm buildings.

The mansion, complete with pool, snooker room, gym and a flat above a range of garages, is beside the A1071 Sudbury-Ipswich road between Newton and Boxford.


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Mr Martin and his wife Jackie have recently applied for a summer house and fence to surround a proposed tennis court, as well as an extension to part of the main house, and roof lights. They also want ten acres of agricultural land at the rear of the house to be zoned as domestic garden, to include a pond.

The property has been named Langley Hall – a reference to the Derbyshire village where coal miner's son Mr Martin was born in the community of Langley Mill. He is now the unpaid manager of AFC Sudbury.

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Members of Newton parish council have described his new home as "a creeping development which looks more and more like a business premises than a residential home."

However, officers of Babergh District Council are recommending members of the development control committee accept the latest proposals when they meet on Wednesday.

The parish council claims the building is out of keeping and already larger than should have been allowed.

John Taylor, parish chairman, said: "We believe Babergh has condoned the breaking of its own guidelines. The new house replaced a pair of cottages, and should not have exceeded 25 per cent of the previous floor area, but we have got something like a 50pc increase.

"The district says the actual two-storey living areas are not more than 25pc, but have gone on to allow a whole range of single storey extensions, such as the pool and other facilities.

"Villagers feel it's a gross over development. What we now have is something quite monstrous, and people from near and far who pass through Newton are asking us just what is being allowed to happen on the edge of our village."

Mr Martin, a former national builder of the year, and previous owner of a golf club and sheltered homes, said he was used to fending off scare stories about over what he was planning for the site and the way it was being built.

"As a hard-working, self-made man I occasionally have to get used to being knocked by critics - perhaps people hit out because of jealously, and want to knock it," added Mr Martin.

Babergh officials say his latest proposals should be granted, subject to conditions.

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