London: Squatters occupy mansion belonging to Russian oligarch
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A mansion the size of Buckingham Palace has lain abandoned for two decades following a disagreement between its owner and architect. Builders laid the foundations for Hamilton Palace, a scaffolding-wrapped mansion in the Sussex countryside, nearly 40 years ago. But arguments between the colourful owner and his architect have left the property – which exceeds the size of King Charles III’s official residence – nearly untouched since then.
Hamilton Palace was commissioned by Nicholas van Hoogstraten, a British former property developer and convicted criminal, in 1985.
The millionaire, 77, poured approximately £40 million into the project and aimed to use the property to house his extensive art collection.
The Uckfield residence stretches past Buckingham Palace’s 108-metre length, making it one of the largest private homes in the UK, and boasts a sprawling central reception and grand staircase.
Photos show the building is not nearly as splendid, as, despite its gleaming central bronze dome, it is far from finished.
Mr van Hoogstraten reportedly fell out with architect Anthony Browne, stalling work that was originally tipped to end in 2002.
The lack of progress has led locals to dub the property the “Ghost House of Sussex”.
They have since complained construction work is all but called off, with many of the developer’s assets since transferred to his children.
Richard Baxter, who owns a neighbouring property, told The Mirror the home was “just going to ruin”.
Members of a local Rambler’s Association successfully launched legal action against the property’s managers in 2002.
Representatives alleged they had failed to maintain a public track that crossed its bounds.
Workers cleared discarded building materials, including barbed wire and concrete, in 2003.
While it is unclear whether the developer still owns the property, he has previously defended claims that it is in ruin.
Mr van Hoogstraten denied the project stalled in 2016 and claimed it would last millennia.
Speaking to The Mirror, he said that “the most moronic of peasants” could see that photos showed “busy landscaping” on the palace grounds.
He said: “Hamilton Palace is far from ‘crumbling’ and was built to last for at least 2,000 years.
“The scaffolding only remains as a part of ongoing routine maintenance such a property would require until completion.”
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