A Russian businessman whose plans to erect a two-metre-high metal fence around his Marlow estate were dubbed a ‘Berlin Wall’ by neighbours has lost a bid to use an outhouse on his 30-acre land for ‘residential purposes’.

Alexander Mosionzhik, former chairman of the board of directors at the oil trading company Nafta Moskva, requested a certificate of lawfulness to use an outbuilding on the Wymers estate in Marlow Bottom for residential purposes in December 2023.

It came one month after he submitted plans to Buckinghamshire Council for the construction of a metal palisade fence encircling his large estate, which straddles ancient woodland and an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty.

The fence proposal was met with significant backlash from villagers, prompting the landowner to dial down its design to a chain-link build with a painted green finish, which Buckinghamshire Council gave the green light to at the beginning of 2024.

Mr Mosionzhik’s idea of using an outhouse on his estate for residential purposes was not a battle so easily won, however.

In documents submitted to the planning portal, the businessman suggested that the outhouse had been used for similar domestic purposes for the last 70 years – which, if true, would mean the council could not oppose the certification.

They also stated that the former owners of the estate had passed away and that it is not clear for what purpose they used the outhouse in question.

However, planning officers were not sufficiently convinced of the building’s “association with the residential use and domestic purpose” of the main house and chose to reject the certificate request.

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The proposed change of use offers some insight into Mr Mosionzhik’s intention for the now-isolated land, the properties on which had fallen into disrepair over recent years.

Speaking to the Free Press last month, residents living in Ragmans Close, a cluster of properties overlooking the fenced-off area, expressed concern about the fence’s impact on local wildlife and the uncertainty of what Mr Mosionzhik has in mind next for his land.

Simone Poli, 84, said: “How it would affect the animals was one of our concerns in the beginning. We didn’t object to the plans – we’re too old! But I wish I had now.

“I think the original design was horrendous and I still don’t know why he had to fence off the whole woodland rather than just putting a barrier around the house. It looks to me like natural habitats are being invaded.”

Steve Pack, 46, added: “You see lots of deer in these fields and worrying what would happen to them was a big motivation for us to get involved. I was a bit concerned when I saw all the machinery they had out to clear the woods and put the fence up.

“My main concern is what this shows you about the planning system. We put in lots of letters to the council but ultimately, I think it just came down to the applicant themselves saying, ‘I don’t want to make a fuss, so I’ll change it.’

“If the same thing happened somewhere else and people didn’t notice and complain so much, it would have just gone ahead.”