Captain Tom Moore’s celebrated walking laps increased the historical value of his home and garden - and subsequently were a factor in the downfall of the family’s bid to keep a spa pool, it has emerged.
Hannah Ingram-Moore, the daughter the World War Two veteran, and her husband, Colin, have lost their planning application appeal against the demolition of the unauthorised spa in the grounds of their home in Marston Moretain, Bedfordshire.
The couple received approval to build an L-shaped Captain Tom Foundation Building on disused tennis courts - but added a wing for the spa, which they later claimed could be used for rehabilitation sessions for elderly people in the area.
In the decision notice issued, Inspector Diane Fleming said the public benefit of the new building did not outweigh the harm to the heritage asset, which features the family’s Grade II-listed Old Rectory home.
She also said that the historic value of the setting had been further increased due to the home and grounds being viewed by millions of people who watched Captain Moore walk 100 laps of the back garden during the Covid lockdown in 2020, raising almost £40m for the NHS.
“Recently, The Old Rectory and its extensive grounds have been viewed through social media and television programmes due to the achievements of Captain Sir Thomas Moore who occupied the property,” said Ms Fleming in her notice.
“He used the terrace to complete his walking laps as part of his fund-raising exercise and, to that extent, views of the north west elevation of The Old Rectory now have additional historical and communal value.
“These views are not just limited to direct views from the lawn but also the approach to the north west elevation from the site entrance and views from across the tennis court and pond area.”
Another factor in the historic value to the site was the 18th Century Old Rectory, which was once an important farmhouse building in the village before becoming associated with the church, wrote Ms Fleming.
The inspector continued to describe the new C-shaped building as “not an insignificant size” and “at odds with the pleasingly domestic scale of The Old Rectory”.
In the family’s initial planning application, the council was told the use of the building was to be mostly in connection with the foundation, established in 2020. Despite concerns over its size, it was approved.
In her decision notice, Ms Fleming said the council thought the facility was “urgently” needed for charitable purposes at the foundation, which now looks set to be closed down amid an ongoing inquiry by the Charity Commission.
On her visit to the building, she found the building to have storage boxes and a large area of floor for podcasting and fillming. “Whether all the podcasting and filming is in connection with Captain Tom or is used for other business ventures is not clear,” she wrote.
There was also Captain Tom memorabilia on the wall, while the wing built without planning approval featured a toilet, shower, kitchen, spa pool and some gym equipment.
At the planning hearing last month, James Paynter, who spoke on behalf of the Ingram-Moores, said the building had evolved to include the spa, adding: “The spa pool has the opportunity to offer rehabilitation sessions for elderly people in the area.”
The rest of the building could be used for coffee mornings and charity meetings, it was said.
But in her decision, Mr Fleming wrote: “I accept that the appellant’s intentions are laudable however, it has not been demonstrated in any detail how all of this would work in practice.
“In the absence of any substantiated information, I find the suggested public benefit would therefore not outweigh the great weight to be given to the harm to the heritage asset.”
Since Captain Moore’s death in 2021, the family has come under the spotlight over the money raised in his name.
In February 2022, The Independent revealed the Captain Tom Foundation had paid tens of thousands of pounds to companies run by Ms Ingram-Moore and her husband, and that the Charity Commission had launched an investigation.
In an emotional interview last month, Ms Ingram-Moore admitted keeping £800,000 from three books the late army veteran had written, despite the prologue of one of them suggesting the money would go to charity.