Dubai's ruler Sheikh Maktoum wins battle to build six-bed lodge

Dubai’s billionaire ruler Sheikh Maktoum wins battle with his neighbour to build six-bed lodge for family members at his Scottish Highlands estate

  • Highland Council refused proposal in June after objections from local residents 
  • Appealed decision with Scottish government and won final approval for lodge 
  • The Sheikh handed over £30,000 for affordable housing in the area last week 

The billionaire ruler of Dubai has won final approval to build a lodge for family members at his Highland estate.

Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid al-Maktoum wanted to expand his Inverinate Estate by erecting a six bedroom building designed to accommodate his relatives.

However the proposal was refused by Highland Council in June after objections from local residents who said it was too close to a neighbouring bungalow and would spoil the natural beauty of the area at Loch Duich.

Sheikh Mohammed Bin Rashid Al-Maktoum (left, pictured with former wife Princess Haya Bint Al-Hussain), the billionaire ruler of Dubai, has won final approval to build a lodge for family members at his Scottish estate

Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid al-Maktoum wanted to expand his Inverinate Estate by erecting a six bedroom building designed to accommodate his relatives. PIctured: An artist impression of the proposed building that was rejected by the local council

The sheikh’s application was refused at a meeting of the local authority’s north planning applications committee despite officials recommending that it should be approved.

He appealed that decision to the Scottish government where officials said a ‘notice of intent’ would be given once final planning requirements had been agreed.

The sheikh last week handed over £30,000 for affordable housing in Ross-shire as part of securing approval for the new lodge.

The 71-year-old sheikh, who has six wives and 23 children, has an estimated £14 billion fortune and bought the estate more than 20 years ago.

An appeal statement submitted by his agents stated: ‘The very subjective nature of design and associated siting matters and the interpretation of related planning policies and associated supplementary guidance as to what is appropriate or not, is fully recognised by the appellants.

‘This is clearly illustrated by the range of negative comments in respect of design-related matters made by local objectors, the decision to refuse planning permission and, by contrast, the positive comments of both the project architect and the council’s planning officer.

The Sheikh paid out £30,000 toward affordable housing Ross-shire in order to secure approval for the new lodge

The 71-year-old sheikh has an estimated £14 billion fortune and bought the estate more than 20 years ago

‘There would be no ‘significantly detrimental’ impact on individual residential amenity, while the proposed siting and high quality design of the proposal would be in keeping with the prevailing character and pattern of development within both the immediate and wider surrounding area.

‘The appellants are content to fully endorse the planning officer’s report and leave it to the appointed reporter to make a judgement on the appropriateness of the siting and design of the proposed dwelling house.’

Nine councillors on Highland Council’s planning committee voted to refuse planning permission while five voted to approve it.

Roddy Macleod, 71, whose home of 35 years sits just 20 metres from the proposed lodge, said the new building in Wester Ross would invade his privacy and spoil his enjoyment of his property.

 In a bid to push forward with plans for the expansion, the Sheikh took his appeal to the Scottish government

Locals also raised concerns that the proposed access road which the sheikh wanted to use for the lodge was unsuitable and would cause increased traffic issues.

The sheikh’s architects altered the design of the building and reduced the number of bedrooms from nine to six in a bid to gain approval.

Planning officials wrote to his representatives asking why the lodge could not be moved to another part of the 63,000-acre estate.

They received a reply saying that he bought the land for the specific purpose of building the lodge and would not relocate it.

Government reporter Gordon S Reid has now confirmed he would allow the building to take place.

His latest win comes after earlier this year he lost a high-profile court fight with his ex wife after she fled their home with their children

Issuing a written report, he said: ‘I received confirmation from the council on the 13 November 2020 that the required payment of the financial contribution (£30,000) towards affordable housing had been received from the appellant.

‘Accordingly, I am now in a position to formally determine the appeal.’

He added: ‘I therefore conclude that the proposed development accords overall with the relevant provisions of the development plan and that there are no material considerations which would justify refusing planning permission..’

The Highland retreat already boasts helipads and a 14 bedroom holiday home, next door to a 16 bedroom luxury hunting lodge with pool and gym.

The new approval comes after earlier this year the Sheikh lost a high-profile court fight with his ex wife after she fled their home with his children.

The billionaire’s plan for the six-bedroom lodge at Inverinate, Wester Ross, was thrown out in June because the property would have been too close to a bungalow lived in by Roddy Macleod (pictured) and his daughter Tina

The court ruling in March this year, which the Sheikh had tried to supress, revealed embarrassing details about the couple’s marriage and sensational claims he had kidnapped his own daughters.

Her Royal Highness Haya bint al-Hussein fled Dubai with his children Princess Jalila, then 11, and son Prince Zayed, seven, to the UK in April last year over claims she feared for her life.

The Sheikh sent British lawyers to the Royal Courts of Justice in London to demand the ‘summary return’ of his children.

But he later abandoned his demand for their return and they were made wards of the court. The couple have since divorced.

The court clash is estimated to have cost an unprecedented £5.2million.

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