‘This rides roughshod over the village’: Locals are at war with £2bn pandemic tycoon over plans
‘This rides roughshod over the village’: Local residents are at war with £2bn pandemic tycoon over her plan for 400 stables at equestrian centre
- Sarah Stoute, 49, raised eyebrows by going on a £30million holiday using profits
- But now a planning application to erect 411 stables has sparked further criticism
A former nurse paid £2billion by the Government for PPE gear has been accused of ‘riding roughshod’ over a quiet village.
Pandemic tycoon Sarah Stoute, 49, had already raised eyebrows by treating herself to a £30million Caribbean holiday villa with vast profits made from 2020 and 2021.
But now neighbours of an equestrian centre she bought for £10million are horrified by her application to erect 411 stables near thatched cottages and a medieval church – double the number put up in Greenwich for the 2012 London Olympics.
Villagers complain that the application was retrospective, with hundreds of stables already installed, fields dug out and even Tarmac-ed over in advance.
They add that show-jumping events on such a scale would wreck life in Keysoe village, Bedfordshire. Foxes, deer and bats are said to have already been scared off. Although Mrs Stoute had offered to fund a village playground as a goodwill gesture, she changed her mind after the parish council opposed her planning application. She has said this is because she didn’t want the original offer to be misconstrued. There are also claims she has paid lawyers to send ‘bullying’ letters threatening opponents, which she denies.
Sarah Stoute, 49, has been accused of ‘riding roughshod’ over Keysoe village, Bedfordshire
Last night the Bedford borough councillor for Keysoe, Tom Wootton, claimed there was a ‘climate of fear’, adding that 411 stables was ‘too much’. He said: ‘There aren’t that many even for nationally famous big events.’
A year ago, the Daily Mail revealed that she and husband Richard were ‘spending like EuroMillions jackpot winners’.
In 2020 alone their firm Full Support Healthcare was paid more than a tenth of the NHS’s £15billion total spend on personal protection equipment. They celebrated by buying not only a £6million mansion in England, but also a £30million villa in the Caribbean. Then in December 2020, the PPE tycoon bought the modest College Farm Equestrian Centre, on 225 acres of rural Bedfordshire – before grandly renaming it Keysoe International.
Neighbours of an equestrian centre she bought for £10million are horrified by her application to erect 411 stables near thatched cottages and a medieval church. Pictured: Shaded area shows where works continue
In November 2021, Mrs Stoute applied to put up 411 ‘temporary’ stables, with many then erected without permission, before being moved as complaints grew to elsewhere on the land. They still remain without permission.
But she argues that the stables, and redeveloped arenas up to 350ft long, are essential for Keysoe to be one of the ‘top three equestrian centres in the UK’.
A total of 18 objections from unnamed villagers – versus one supporter – include claims the plan ‘rides roughshod over the village’. Mrs Stoute’s lawyers claimed in response that she planned to withdraw her stables application – but plans remain with the council. Meanwhile, diggers are still at work, and she has made clear she is yet to decide full plans for what she calls ‘the complete redevelopment of the site’.
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