Prince Charles’ struggling eco-village at Dumfries House was ‘also saved by Boris Johnson’s flat donor’
- Lord Brownlow found to have partially funded work on 11 Downing Street
- But the peer also intervened as Prince of Wales struggled to sell property
- Lord Brownlow’s Havisham investment group stepped in to buy nine properties
A Tory donor got caught up in the row over the renovation of Boris Johnson’s flat and also ‘saved’ Prince Charles’ struggling eco-village at Dumfries House.
Lord Brownlow was revealed this year that he had partially funded the work at 11 Downing Street after Mr Johnson’s then-fiancee Carrie Symonds allegedly objected to the ‘John Lewis furniture nightmare’ left by Theresa May.
But the colleague, who was a police officer before making a fortune in the financial sector, also intervened as the Prince of Wales struggled to sell properties in Knockroon in East Ayrshire.
Lord Brownlow was revealed this year to have partially funded the work on No 11 Downing Street
The new development of 770 houses was intended to be Poundbury – the village in Dorset, built to conform to the Prince’s architectural and community values.
In plans drawn up after Charles formed a consortium to buy Dumfries House in 2007, the sale of the homes in Knockroon would raise millions of pounds that could be used to renovate the dilapidated Palladian mansion.
But after developers struggled to sell even the first phase of 31 homes, Lord Brownlow’s Havisham investment group stepped in to buy nine properties as a buy-to-let and a pub.
The £45 million acquisition of Dumfries House – including £20 million borrowed through Charles’s charitable organization The Prince’s Foundation – was a financial risk to the future king.
However, it came with 68 acres of farmland where he hoped to create his eco-village and raise more than enough money to repay his charity’s debts and fund ambitious plans to restore Dumfries House.
Experts say the plan was worthwhile but misconceived, with the properties too expensive for the former mining area.
The first tranche of flats and houses went on sale in 2011, with a four-bedroom house costing £220,000.
By comparison, a three-bedroom property in nearby Cumnock was for sale at the time for £39,950. Knockroon’s failure would explain why Charles turned to donors to fund Dumfries House.
A Tory donor got in line over the renovation of Boris Johnson’s flat and also ‘saved’ Prince Charles
“Charles risked everything financially and emotionally to buy the house and estate,” says royal author Ingrid Seward.
‘Knockroon was crucial for the economy. He wanted to create his own Scottish Poundbury, an exemplary village of sustainable living to offset costs and create long-term sustainability. But so far it hasn’t worked.
“Not building as many houses as he would have liked put pressure on raising money from other sources, including donors.”
Despite the intervention of the Havisham Group, Knockroon developer Hope Homes walked away from the project in 2015.
Lord Brownlow contributed £58,000 to the refurbishment of No 11. Mr Johnson then repaid the money.
The Havisham Group has not responded to requests for comment.
A spokesperson for The Prince’s Foundation said last night: “As our financial statements show, The Prince’s Foundation remains financially sound.”
A source emphasized that the amount borrowed to help make the purchase of Dumfries House in 2007 possible has long since been paid off.