Kazakh-standoff! Oligarch faces residents' revolt over estate plans

Kazakh-standoff! Horse-mad oligarch faces a residents’ revolt over his plans to build 205 homes in 12th Century village

  • Oil baron Nurlan Bizakov wants to build the estate on an East Sussex stud farm 
  • Hundreds of East Hoathly locals opposed the plans, but he got council approval
  • They say the homes would damage the character of the historic rural community
  • Residents want to mount a legal challenge – but Bizakov is unlikely to back down 
  • He once hired armed Kazakh government soldiers to storm his former workplace

Residents of an idyllic village dating from the 12th century claim it is being ‘destroyed’ by a Kazakh oligarch.

Nurlan Bizakov wants to build an estate of more than 200 homes in East Hoathly in East Sussex.

But some of the 1,600 locals say he is damaging the character of their historic home.

Mr Bizakov built his fortune in his homeland after hiring armed ‘mercenaries’ to storm his former offices at an oil refinery and get his job back – even though he had resigned in the first place.

Nurlan Bizakov, left, with his horse Tomyris after it won the Betfred ‘Supports Jack Berry House’ Chartwell Fillies’ Stakes at Lingfield. Bizakov launched himself on the European racing scene not long after becoming the majority owner of £100m firm Kazphosphate in 2007. He now wants to build a 205-house estate in East Hoathly against the objections of residents who say it will damage the town’s historic charm. Jockey Frankie Dettori is pictured on the right (file photo).

He then went on to make huge amounts in phosphorous and phosphates there, claiming his business was worth £1billion. Over the past decade he has become a major figure in British horse racing, setting records with his lavish spending.

But it is his purchase of the 400-acre Hesmonds Stud farm that has brought him into his latest battle.

Residents of East Hoathly welcomed the takeover, but then he made applications to build housing estates on the ‘equestrian’ land – while shifting his focus to another stud farm he bought in Normandy last year. 

Then he won permission to build 205 houses against the will of hundreds of local objectors. 

East Hoathly locals initially welcomed Bizakov’s investment in the area but now want to mount a legal challenge against his plans, which were approved by Wealden District Council in July. Campaigner Jonathan Walker, front left, said: ‘A development of this size would destroy a unique village which has been around for more than 1,000 years.’ 

There are only around 500 homes in the village and locals say there are plans for 200 more on other fields.

Campaigner Jonathan Walker said: ‘Everyone thought Mr Bizakov was great because he invested millions. [But] a development of this size would destroy a unique village which has been around for more than 1,000 years. 

‘He built a modern Bond-style mansion and has remained hidden away. It seems only a matter of time until he disappears off to France and takes with him the millions made by devastating this historic rural community.’

Mr Bizakov’s application was approved by Wealden District Council in July. Campaigners wish to mount a legal challenge – but Mr Bizakov’s past would suggest he is unlikely to compromise.

Bizakov owns what was described as a ‘Bond style mansion’, pictured above, in East Hoathly. Locals fear it seems only a matter of time until he leaves for France, where he has a second stud farm in Normandy. The 400-acre Hesmonds Stud farm in the historic village is set to be developed into a 205-home estate, nearly doubling the number of dwellings there.

In 2000, he resigned as chairman and manager of the Shymkent Oil Refinery after former Kazakhstan president Nursultan Nazarbayev’s government began supporting moves against foreign investors.

He then called for the firm to be renationalised and won a court judgment allowing him to take his job back. Mr Bizakov entered by force – accompanied by soldiers from the Kazakh internal affairs ministry. He denied taking orders from Mr Nazarbayev.

The BBC reported: ‘Special task force soldiers ensured Bizakov’s passage by overcoming… company guards and breaking down the main door.’ 

Canadian executive Marlo Thomas regained control with his own security team.

A few years later, Mr Bizakov became the majority owner of firm Kazphosphate, leading its purchase for £100million in 2007. Not long after, he launched himself on European racing. 

He declined to comment on the planning row. 

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