King Charles is facing his first major challenge as monarch – not to hurt any newts when he builds a new gift shop at his country retreat.
Servants have asked for permission to make the store at his Highgrove Estate permanent with a new specially constructed building.
But experts have warned the King that the project can only go ahead as long as there are no Great Crested Newts present.
Evidence provided by NatureSpace warned: ‘Should great crested newts be found at any stages of the development works, then all work should cease and nature England should be contacted for advice.’
Pictures show plans drawn up by architects Hoare, Ridge and Morris to build a new gift shop on King Charles’ Highgrove Estate
Pictured: The Highgrove gift shop is housed in a temporary structure at present
The organisation said it did not object to the change but added: ‘The applicant is reminded that it is an offence to deliberately capture, disturb or kill great crested newts. Planning approval does not provide a defence against prosecution.’
Arrangements to improve the shop at his Highgrove Estate in Tetbury, Gloucestershire quietly continued despite the death of the Queen.
The King, via Alastair Martin, the Duchy of Cornwall’s Secretary and Keeper of The Records, is applying to make permanent a gift outlet which marks the end of his garden tour route, open to the public.
The shop is currently based in a temporary marquee which has planning permission until the middle of October and the King now wants the shop to be made permanent.
The planning application submitted to Cotswold District Council is to build a new gift shop at Highgrove, Gloucesteshire
Experts are warning that if great crested newts are found during development, ‘then all work should cease’. Pictured, plans of the new gift shop
The application went in to Cotswold District Council at the end August, but a public ‘Requisite Notice” of the application was published by the authority on September 12 a few days after the death of the Queen and as the nation mourned her death.
The application said: “Covid 19 interrupted garden visits but visitors are now coming back to Highgrove and the need for the shop is as great as ever.
“The shop is the end-point of the typical garden tour route. As a marquee it lacks the quality of the rest of the garden experience or surrounding buildings. The proposed permanent building will put that right. It will also be smaller than the consented marquee.
“The shop is an important stopping point for visitors wishing to purchase a souvenir on a memorable day out. All the profits from shop sales benefit the Prince’s Foundation.”
Plan drawings: A sketch view of the proposed open verandah facing the courtyard at the Highgrove Estate
Plan drawings: View from gateway on the west side of the Carpet Garden at Highgrove
The application, with plans drawn up by architects Hoare, Ridge and Morris, argues that the King’s gardens are ‘internationally significant’ and help the local economy.
It adds that the new shop would benefit the charitable activity of the Prince’s Foundation, which may need to be changed to King’s Foundation.
The council is due to make a decision later this month.
Earlier this week it emerged that Charles now has to pay his son Prince William rent for Highgrove as it is owned by the Duchy of Cornwall, now owned by the new Prince of Wales.
Charles moved into Highgrove House, an 18th century mansion with extensive grounds, in 1980, after falling for it shortly before his ill-fated first marriage.
Plan drawings: View towards the Carpet Garden from the east end of the Orchard Room
A view of the gardens at Highgrove in Gloucestershire, the country residence of King Charles and Queen Consort Camilla
It lies southwest of Tetbury in Gloucestershire.
It was purchased by the Duchy of Cornwall and leased to Charles on a long term basis.
Since Charles became King, Prince William has taken over the Duchy’s £345 million property portfolio which means he is now technically his own father’s landlord.
Now he has inherited Windsor Castle, Buckingham Palace, Sandringham and Balmoral there has been speculation he might offer Highgrove to other royals as a resident – or even sell it.
But Charles is understood to be more fond of the house than any of the other royal palaces as he has put so much of himself into it, having spent years overseeing the remodelling of the gardens so it seems unlikely he would let it go.
Charles opened Highgrove retail shops in Tetbury and London 30 years ago. Some 30,000 visitors a year are allowed into Highgrove to see the house and gardens.