West End theatre producer must demolish his idyllic seaside home

West End theatre producer must demolish his idyllic £800,000 seaside home that was built 5ft too high after locals complained it looked like a Travelodge

  • Adam and Charlotte Spiegel built their home in Cley-Next-The-Sea, Norfolk
  • They have been ordered to pull it down after breaching planning regulations 

A West End theatre producer has been ordered to knock down his modern seaside home after being accused of building it up to 5ft too high.

Villagers had complained that the timber-clad £800,000 house built for Adam Spiegel, 54, and his wife Charlotte, 52, looked like a ‘fortress’ or even a Travelodge hotel.

They complained that the house called Arcady which means ‘rustic paradise’ in Greek was completely out of place among the historic flint cottages in Cley-Next-The-Sea, Norfolk.

Mr Spiegel who has produced the London West End shows The Mousetrap, Hairspray and Motown The Musical had battled for nearly four years to be able to keep the house.

But a Government planning inspector turned down his and his wife’s appeal against North Norfolk District Council’s decision to refuse changes in planning consent conditions to allow their home to stay.

Villagers in Cley-Next-The-Sea, Norfolk, complained that the timber-clad house built for Adam and Charlotte Spiegel looked like a ‘fortress’ or even a ‘Travelodge hotel’

Adam Spiegel – who has produced the London West End shows The Mousetrap, Hairspray and Motown The Musical – and his wife Charlotte (pictured together) had battled for nearly four years to be able to keep the house

The couple have now been told that they must demolish it by October 18, 2024, although they are allowed to keep an annexe and their swimming pool.


The decision has been welcomed by villagers who described the new house as an ‘eyesore’ in an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty opposite 14th century St Margaret’s church.

Retired office manager Trish Chapman, 76, said: ‘The house looks just awful. I don’t know how it got through the planning process and building regulations.

‘You would have thought that it should have been built to the plans which were approved – but it was built far too big.

‘I just feel sorry for the family who own it because they have settled in and it is their home. The council have not handled it very well at all.’

Local artist Godfrey Sayers, 81, who is chairman of the Friends of North Norfolk, said: ‘They had permission for a certain size building and they went beyond that.

‘The council should have served an enforcement notice when it was being built and it was clear that it was going to be higher than it was supposed to be.

‘There are a lot of old buildings in the area – but this house looks like an annexe to a hospital or a university building.

‘There seems to be a growing trend for the modern ugly houses. They tend to be built by people who can afford to try and take on the planning system.’

Locals complained that the house called Arcady which means ‘rustic paradise’ in Greek was completely out of place among the historic flint cottages in Cley-Next-The-Sea, Norfolk

Cley next the Sea is among the many quaint and picture postcard villages on the north Norfolk coast

Another villager who asked not to be named said: ‘The building is just so ugly and over the top. It is far too big and looks like a Travelodge hotel. It towers over the village.’

The site where the box-like home stands had a bungalow on it with planning consent for a new house before the plot was bought by Mr and Mrs Spiegel in 2016 for £725,000.

The previous owners had originally been denied permission to demolish the bungalow and replace it with a four bedroom modern home in 2013.

But they won an appeal allowing the development to go ahead in 2014 after a planning inspector ruled it would ‘sit comfortably in what is a generous sized plot’.

The inspector ruled that it would have only a ‘limited’ effect on local surroundings because it would be ‘only marginally taller’ than the existing bungalow and lower than the adjacent house.

Mr and Mrs Spiegel started building work in January 2017, but North Norfolk District Council found ‘inconsistencies’ between the design and what was being built.

The council told Mr Spiegel to halt construction until a fresh planning application could be looked at, but work continued and the council served an enforcement notice.

The couple appealed the decision to demolish their property (pictured above) but this hjas now been rejected by the Planning Inspectorate 

According to online house register Zoopla, Arcady, described as having three bedrooms, last changed hands in December 2016 for £725,000

The three bedroom house called Arcady was described as a contemporary and modern building with light panelling, varying rooflines and timber clad elevations (development plan showed above)

The couple tried to get planning conditions amended in 2022 to allow their home to be approved retrospectively, but they were turned down.

They appealed against the decision, describing their home as a ‘high quality piece of architecture’ with ‘balanced and integrated cubic forms’.

The couple also claimed that their ‘contemporary and honest dwelling’ fitted in with the setting of the village and did not ‘intrude’ on views of the church.

They admitted that ‘roof changes through the construction phase’ increased the height of the middle section of the house by 1.05m

But planning inspector Diane Lewis said that the original plans showed the new house had been built in an elevated position which was 1.66m (just over 5ft) higher than the ground level of the old bungalow.

She ruled that the original planning drawings for the house were inaccurate and ‘did not correctly show the proposed dwelling in its proper context’.

The inspector criticised the blocks of the building for showing ‘little articulation and subtlety’.

She added that the house was ‘radically different and understandably was regarded by many as being visually intrusive within its surroundings’.

The striking property called Arcady stands behind security gates in Holt Road (pictured above). North Norfolk District Council served an enforcement notice on the couple to take all the buildings on the site down following a ‘breach of planning control’

The original notice from North Norfolk District Council stated: ‘The development that has been undertaken is materially different to that approved by planning permission’

The shingle beach at Cley-Next-The-Sea is a popular visitor attraction, as are its historic flint cottages

A resident who has lived beside Cley village green for more than 20 years said in a letter to the council that there was a ‘massive’ difference between the height of the old bungalow and the new house.

The resident whose name was redacted added that planning drawings comparing the old bungalow to the new house were ‘a gross misrepresentation’. They went on: ‘What a farce. There are no measurements. No accuracy.’

The council’s conservation and design officer described Arcady as ‘harmful’ to the village’s Conservation Area and ‘visually discordant’ compared to the scale of other houses and cottages.

The officer’s report concluded: ‘Indeed, by virtue of long street frontage and positioning on a bank, it presents a fortress-like appearance to Newgate Green.’

It added: ‘The rectangular bulk of the dwelling also rises above the road and is highly visible and intrusive in the street scene.’

A North Norfolk District Council spokesperson said the council welcomed the decision to refuse consent for the house to stay ‘in what has been an important and complex case for the local community, the appellant and the council.’

The spokesperson added: ‘The council will endeavour to work with the appellants to deliver the required outcomes from these decisions.’

Mr Spiegel did not respond to a request for comment.

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