£50m road past Beckingham Palace

by NADIA COHEN, Daily Mail

They wanted a family home they could grow into. So after shelling out £2.5 million on a seven-bedroom mansion, Victoria and David Beck-ham have spent another £1 million expanding it to match their dreams.

Unfortunately, Beckingham Palace, as their new home has become known, is not the only thing expanding.

The A414, which runs near the property in Sawbridgeworth, Hertfordshire, is to be extended into a £50 million dual carriageway.

Plans show that the road - linking the A10 to the west with the M11 to the east - will have a major roundabout close to the Beck-hams' main gates.

A planned viaduct crossing the River Start, which bounds the property, could offer elevated views of the house from less than a quarter of a mile away.

That won't impress the Beck-hams, who have applied to build a 7ft perimeter fence around their home to keep out unwanted visitors.

Yesterday Hertfordshire County Council confirmed that the road was on the drawing board.

'We are in favour of this road to ease the volume of traffic,' a spokesman said. 'It will be good for people in Sawbridgeworth but bad for larger houses on the outskirts and that would include the Beckhams' property.'

The road, which will be paid for by both Hertfordshire and Essex county councils, is still in the planning and finance stages, but could be built in five years.

Essex County Council's principal transportation planner Paul Wilkinson said: 'These are plans made six years ago that are being looked at again now and may be put into place in 2006.' The road is needed to ease traffic congestion as motorists try to find a cross-country route to Stansted Airport.

The latest report from Essex highways committee says 'a high quality dual carriageway' should be built but admits that it will have 'a major impact' on the Beckhams' and neighbouring properties. Neighbour Dr Joe Peters was surprised the Beckhams had bought in the area.

'The reason many people have not bought houses here is because of the certain likelihood of this major bypass being built straight through here,' he said.

'I thought that things must have changed when the Beckhams bought that house, but I checked and the plans are still on file and the road looks as if it will go ahead.'

The Beckhams bought the property, a former children's home, in 1999. Their renovation plans include adding a recording studio, garden pavilion and gazebos.

Last night their spokesman said they were unavailable for comment. She was unsure whether they knew of the plans before they bought the mansion.

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