ASOS billionaire wins right to build floating sauna and changing room

ASOS billionaire Anders Holch Povslen wins right to build floating sauna and changing room on banks of Loch Ness at his £15m Scottish castle estate

  • Anders Holch Povlsen, 48, has bought over £100m of Scottish property since 2006, including Aldourie Castle
  • Danish fashion magnate has now had application for listed building consent granted by the Highland Council
  • Included in that plan is restoration of two boathouses, the ruins of which are visible on the banks of Loch Ness
  • The ASOS Billionaire will still have to apply for planning permission, although that too is likely to be granted 

ASOS billionaire Anders Holch Povlsen’s initial plans for a floating sauna and changing room on the banks of Loch Ness have been approved by conservation bosses.

The Danish fashion magnate, 48, has snapped up more than £100million of Highlands property since 2006, including historic Aldourie Castle, which is the only habitable castle on the shoreline of the famous Scottish loch.

He reportedly paid £15million for the estate in 2015 and it is being slowly restored.  

Mr Povlsen – one of the UK’s largest landowners – has now had an application for listed building consent granted by the Highland Council, with stringent conditions. 

Included in that plan is the restoration of two boathouses, the ruins of which are visible on the banks of the 37km stretch of water. They are originally thought to have been built in the 19th century when the castle was expanded.

Mr Povlsen became enchanted with Scotland when he went fly fishing in the Scottish Highlands as a young boy in the 1980s with his parents and brother.

With his wife Anne, he has since formed a ‘200-year vision’ for their estates, which involves rewilding the land. Mr Povlsen said he planned to pass the estate along to his four children and that they would continue his work.

But their dream was hit by tragedy when three of their four children were killed in the Easter Sunday bombings in Sri Lanka in 2018. Alfred, five, Alma, 15, and Agnes, 12, all died. Only their youngest daughter, Astrid, then ten, survived the attacks and they had twin girls around a year later in March 2020.

At the time they wrote an open letter to the people of Scotland, thanking them for their ‘heartfelt gratitude for the condolences, sympathy and many warming thoughts we have received following the tragic loss of our three beloved and beautiful children.’

Anders Holch Povlsen, 48, pictured with his wife Anne, has had initial plans for a floating sauna and changing room on the banks of Loch Ness approved by conservation bosses. Since 2006, he has snapped up more than £100million of Highlands property, including historic Aldourie Castle

Aldourie Castle is set within 500 acres of prime Scottish real estate  and is the only habitable castle on the shoreline of Loch Ness. Mr Povlsen reportedly paid £15million for the estate in 2015 and it is being slowly restored

An illustration showing the proposed elevation for the new boathouse on Loch Ness. Mr Povlsen has had an application for listed building consent granted by the Highland Council, with stringent conditions

The proposed side elevation for one of the new boathouses, submitted by Mr Povlsen as part of restoration plans. They are originally thought to have been built in the 19th century when the castle was expanded

Evidence from the turn of the 20th century shows a heather thatched open timber boathouse protected by a palisaded timber fence.

Wooden stakes that one former boathouse used to float on can still be seen in the water, while the concrete plinth is all that remains of the other.

An application was put in earlier this year by the Aldourie Castle Estate for listed building consent to recreate the two structures, using a timber frame, corrugated iron roof, with one of the floating pontoons including a sauna and changing room.

The other was to include space for, according to plans, what appeared to be a speedboat, with an adjoining toilet, and a tearoom and kitchenette above.

Work is subject to a number of conditions including that all materials should follow approved drawings and any internal or external work should match the original materials and finishes where possible.

Although the first planning hurdle has now been cleared, the billionaire will still have to apply for planning permission, although that too is likely to be granted.

Area planning manager for the council, David Mudie, said when granting the listed building consent: ‘All works, materials and finishes shall be as noted on the approved drawings.

‘Any internal or external works and finishes, or works for making-good as required, shall be to match original/adjacent materials and finishes.’

Existing site plans for the new boathouse. Evidence from the turn of the 20th century shows a heather thatched open timber boathouse protected by a palisaded timber fence

Proposed site plans for the new boathouse. Work is subject to a number of conditions including that all materials should follow approved drawings and any internal or external work should match the original materials and finishes where possible

Proposed plans for the new boathouse. Wooden stakes that one former boathouse used to float on can still be seen in the water, while the concrete plinth is all that remains of the other

Proposed floor plans for one of the new boathouses. An application was put in earlier this year by the Aldourie Castle Estate for listed building consent to recreate the two structures

Proposed front elevation for one of the new boathouses on Loch Ness. Although the first planning hurdle has now been cleared, the billionaire will still have to apply for planning permission, although that too is likely to be granted

He went on to say that this was ‘in order to safeguard the character and qualities of the listed building and designed landscape.’

Historic Environment Scotland did not oppose the consent, adding: ‘We have considered the information received and do not have any comments to make on the proposals.

‘Our decision not to provide comments should not be taken as our support for the proposals.

‘This application should be determined in accordance with national and local policy on listed building consent, together with related policy guidance.’ 

Mr Povlsen began building this ever-growing property portfolio 14 years ago, in the autumn of 2006, with the £7.9million acquisition of Glenfeshie, a 42,000-acre patch of the Cairngorms National Park.

Two years later, he spent another £15.5million acquiring the 23,000-acre Braeroy estate near Fort William, nearby Tulloch, and Lynaberack in the Cairngorms. Four estates were added between 2011 and 2015, and another three in 2016.

Mr Povlesen’s first buy was Glenfeshie, whose 42,000 acres inspired Sir Edwin Landseer’s Monarch of the Glen. He bought the estate in 2006, marking the start of his ever-growing property portfolio

Mr Povlsen bought Killie Huntley estate in 2011 and rents out the vast farmhouse to holidaymakers. The Danish billionaire’s Scottish landholdings cover an area half the size of Worcestershire

The Kinloch estate, by the Kyle of Sutherland estuary, offers 20,000 of hunting and salmon fishing. Mr Povlsen’s life as a Scottish laird is all a long way from the tiny Danish town of Brande, with a population of just 7,000, where Povlsen’s father, Troels, opened the family’s first clothes store in 1975

The Ben Loyal lodge and estate were snapped up by Mr Povlsen back in 2012. In addition to ‘re-wilding’, the billionaire has poured millions of pounds into converting lodges, cottages and farmhouses into upmarket holiday retreats on his estates

His Scottish landholdings cover an area half the size of Worcestershire, and surpassed the mere 217,000 acres owned by the Duke of Buccleuch – Britain’s biggest land owner before him.

Partial to a single malt and locally brewed real ale, he is known to visit local pubs in Scotland but rarely says much about himself.

Mr Povlsen’s life as a Scottish laird is all a long way from the tiny Danish town of Brande, with a population of just 7,000, where Povlsen’s father, Troels, opened the family’s first clothes store in 1975.

Other outlets soon followed. And Anders was only 27 when Troels made him the sole owner of Bestseller. By 2007, it was so successful that supermodel Gisele Bundchen was hired to promote it.

Bestseller employs 15,000 people and boasts nearly 6,000 shops. He owns brands such as Jack & Jones and Vero Moda, and 27 per cent of ASOS.com, Britain’s biggest internet fashion retailer.

Today it bought Topshop, Topman, Miss Selfridge and HIIT from the ashes of Sir Philip Green’s Arcadia. 

In addition to ‘re-wilding’, the billionaire has poured millions of pounds into converting lodges, cottages and farmhouses into upmarket holiday retreats on his estates. 

Aldourie Castle, built around 1626 as laird’s house, is now available to rent for private stays and makes up part of the Povlsen’s huge Scottish land bank. 

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