Hollywood director Tim Burton is facing a revolt by ramblers over a 7ft wooden fence at the historic Oxfordshire mansion he used to share with former partner Helena Bonham Carter.
Some locals in the sleepy Cotswolds village where his house is located are up in arms after the towering 130 foot-long wooden structure suddenly appeared last September, which walkers say cuts out the light and narrows the public footpath next to the property.
Bizarrely, the eight-bedroom ‘gentleman’s residence’ Burton bought for £2.9 million in 2006 when he first got together with Harry Potter star Bonham Carter, 54, was once owned by the actress’ great-grandfather, former prime minister Herbert Henry Asquith.
Speaking to MailOnline one neighbour, who asked not to be named, said: ‘We’ve been here for 40 years. We used to be able to walk along the footpath where there was just a chain link fence so you could see the lake the laurel trees in their garden.
‘Now there’s that 7ft high fence blocking our view of the garden, which is outside their boundary and is not at all in keeping with the local area. It’s offensive.’
In a letter to the local council, neighbour Laura Lauro wrote: ‘I strongly object to the fence; it is much too high, it has been erected without permission, without consulting the people living in the area very obstructively on the footpath, narrowing it considerably and with no consideration for the historic value of the footpath and completely ignoring the gloomy effect it has on it.’
Another resident, Julia Russell, added: ‘The new fence has blighted the landscape. Most importantly, it narrows and darkens the footpath to such an extent that children and dogs are at risk from cyclists suddenly appearing from around the bend.’
In another letter of objection, neighbours known only as Mr and Mrs Aubury wrote: ‘Whilst we fully understand the applicant’s desire for privacy, the fence as it stands negatively affects the view from our property.
‘This fence materially affects the character and appearance of this part of the conservation area. The fence has replaced a previously green meshed wire fence which blended with its surroundings and effectively demarcated the boundary.’
While another neighbour added: ‘I used to be able to walk along the path with my friend side-by-side but now one of us has to walk behind the other.
‘The path narrows as it bends round and you can find yourself quite close to the banks of the river.’
The fence was put up last year to protect the owner’s privacy and prevent walkers using the footpath that runs alongside the house from looking into the garden.
It was put up without planning permission which was sought retrospectively two months later.
And despite complaints from ramblers and neighbours to the property planning permission has now been granted.
They also conceded that although the new fence had been built in front of the old one and reduced the width of the footpath, there was no legally-recorded width for the path.
Case officer Kerry Street said in her report: ‘Given the distance of the fence to the nearest properties, and the river that separates them, there will be no detrimental harm to these properties through either loss of light, overlooking or over-shadowing.
‘Given the relatively small change in the position of the fence compared with the previous fence, and relative to the width of the path itself, officers do not consider that safety has been compromised.’
Edward Scissorhands filmmaker Burton, 60, bought the Grade II listed home five years after meeting actress Bonham Carter, with whom he has two children.
It was on the lawns of the property that her ancestor Asquith, the prime minister who took Britain into the First World War, entertained Winston Churchill, Lloyd George and the Aga Khan.
And it was on the backwater of the Thames, that Asquith, known as ‘The Sledgehammer’, found escape from weighty pre-war politics, and where he mourned the death on the Somme of his son, Raymond.
Asquith, prime minister from 1908 to 1916 and the leader of the last Liberal government, bought the 18th century Mill House along with neighbouring Wharf Mill, where he lived, in 1912.
Asquith so loved the area – his biographer Roy Jenkins said it played a ‘great part’ in his life – that he chose to die there, and asked to be buried in the churchyard rather than Westminster Abbey.
His widow sold the property in 1932. Its owner for 30 years before being sold to Burton, Jane Stevens, served as lady-in-waiting to the late Princess Margaret, who was also a close friend.
More recently Johnny Depp is believed to have sought solace there with his friends Bonham Carter and Burton following the bitter fallout from his divorce from Amber Heard.
Bonham Carter and Burton split in 2014 after 13 years together. But they remain friends and both spend time at their country home with their children Billy, 15, and Nell, 11.
During their time together the couple famously lived in London next door to each other in leafy Belsize Park, North London, saying that their relationship was ‘enhanced by knowing we have our personal space to retreat to’.
Burton’s representatives declined to comment when approached by Mail Online.
A housekeeper said by neighbours to live at the period property said, ‘no thank you’ when approached by Mail Online for a comment.
Diane Hamshere, who is named on the planning application, also declined to comment when approached by Mail Online.