Boris Johnson's plans for lavish outdoor swimming pool under threat from newts

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Boris Johnson
Boris Johnson's grand plans risk being thwarted by newts (Image: PA)

Boris Johnson's plans to build an outdoor swimming pool at his Cotswolds manor house could be hampered by local newts.

The former Prime Minister is seeking planning permission for the works at the £3.8million country pile, which he bought with his wife Carrie in May. An application was made to the local council in June for an 11m x 4m swimming pool, surrounded by a tiled area in the grounds of the 400-year-old property.

But in a blow to his ambitions, the local council’s countryside officer has lodged a holding objection which warns about the threat to local newts from the proposed development. In his response, Edward Church said: “There are known populations of great crested newts (GCN)… in the east of the village. Mapping shows that there is a pond onsite and a moat immediately adjacent to the southern boundary, both well within 250 metres of the position of the proposed pool.”

He said there was "a reasonable likelihood that GCN are present and could be impacted by the proposed development" as it fell within “the red zone of highest risk” for the black and orange-bellied amphibian. He said a survey was likely to be needed.

Boris Johnson's plans for lavish outdoor swimming pool under threat from newts eideziqkeiqhhinvBoris Johnson on a jog near his new home in the Cotswolds (JEREMY SELWYN)

The great crested newt is protected by law, which means Mr Johnson would have to provide new habitats on his property or move the amphibians to another site if they are found near his pool.

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In a cruel irony, Mr Johnson once ranted that "newt-counting delays are a massive drag on the prosperity of this country" in a speech about job creation in 2020. However his claim that wildlife surveys were holding back housebuilding were branded "pure fiction" by wildlife experts. He also dubbed his London mayoral rival Ken Livingstone "King Newt" for his love of the amphibians.

Mr Johnson's plans have already been hit by a warning from the local County Archaeological Services, which said he should be forced to monitor for important archaeological finds if planning permission is granted as the property is located in a site of “considerable archaeological interest". The plans for Mr Johnson's pool are currently under consultation, with a target decision date set for mid-August.

The ex-PM, who resigned in a fury in June over a probe into his Partygate lies, has raked in more than £5million since leaving No10, including a string of highly-paid speeches and a £510,000 advance to write his memoir. He will reportedly earn £1million over two years as a newspaper columnist for the Daily Mail.

Mr Johnson and Liz Truss were both handed bumper pay-offs of more than £18,000 after being forced out of Downing Street, Government documents showed last month.

Mr Johnson's spokesman declined to comment.

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Lizzy Buchan

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