Mohamed Fayed’s wife in high court bid to halt crematorium near their Surrey mansion

·2-min read
Heini Wathen-Fayed is leading a High Court challenge  (Getty Images)
Heini Wathen-Fayed is leading a High Court challenge (Getty Images)

The wife of billionaire former Harrods and Fulham FC owner Mohamed Fayed has launched a High Court bid to stop a huge crematorium from being built near the couple’s mansion in Surrey.

Heini Wathen-Fayed is suing over plans to construct a funeral site — with the crematorium, a 120-seat ceremony hall, a memorial area, a garden of remembrance and parking — on green belt land near Oxted.

The site is half a mile from Barrow Green Court, a Grade I listed Jacobean country home which Mr Fayed, 93, has owned since the Seventies.

Mrs Wathen-Fayed, 67, is leading a High Court challenge to a government planning inspector’s decision to approve the crematorium project on the basis of a compelling local need.

The Finnish-born former model and actress says she wants to safeguard the local environment from development and preserve the “peaceful” 12-acre site.

Horizon Cremation Ltd planning application for the crematorium was rejected by Tandridge district council in October 2020. Planning inspector Jonathan Price overturned that decision in September last year.

Lawyers for Mrs Wathen-Fayed and objectors including the Oxted and Limpsfield Residents’ Group say the land, bordering the A25, is protected green belt on the edge of an “area of outstanding beauty”, and that the decision to approve the plan ignored guidance on flood risks.

Speaking outside court last week, Mrs Wathen-Fayed criticised the proposed use of land, currently dedicated to horse grazing. “We moved there because of the green belt and local residents want to keep it like that,” she said. “It’s a peaceful and natural area and we want more land to be preserved.”

Mrs Wathen-Fayed, who married Mr Fayed in 1985, is mother to four of his children. Dodi Fayed, who died with Princess Diana in a 1997 car crash in Paris, was born to Mr Fayed’s first wife, Samira Khashoggi.

Mr Price concluded the crematorium would only do “moderate harm” to the area’s rural character, and that demand for the facility meant building on green belt was acceptable. Funeral sites around Tandridge were functioning “beyond their practical capacity”, he ruled.

Horizon Cremation estimated that the legal battle has cost it about £500,000. Judge Timothy Mould QC is expected to give his judgment at a later date.

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