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Formula 1 tycoon Ron Dennis maps out £30m Bond villain-style mega-mansion…

When Formula 1 team founder Ron Dennis sold his shares in McLaren for £275 million in 2017 he bought a huge plot of land on which to build a mega-mansion.

Now, the British Business Ambassador has submitted plans which show he hopes to build the most spectacular new home in England for £30 million. It will contain features that wouldn’t look out of place in the lair of a James Bond villain.

The most Dr No-esque proposal by Dennis, 74, is the installation of a secret tunnel on the outer perimeter of the grounds, which leads to a boat on the nearby Thames.

He also wants a ‘driver’s resting area’ for his security team which, I assume, will be built rather like a hotel room as in F1, so his team can have a place to rest their weary legs after patrolling the huge 175-acre estate.

There will also be a Roman baths-style underground pool with a sauna, steam room and massage area; an entertaining suite; a games room; a flower room; and even a room devoted to crockery and glassware.

According to the plans submitted to Wokingham Borough Council, he’s also got an underground car park to house his car collection, as well as a car wash. He is even asking for a hair and beauty salon to be put in, which, I can only assume, is for his girlfriend, Carol Weatherall (pictured with Dennis), rather than the follicly challenged man himself.

When Formula 1 team founder Ron Dennis sold his shares in McLaren for £275 million in 2017 he bought a huge plot of land on which to build a mega-mansion

When Formula 1 team founder Ron Dennis sold his shares in McLaren for £275 million in 2017 he bought a huge plot of land on which to build a mega-mansion

Dennis, who has three children with ex-wife Lisa, purchased the land in Berkshire from Spink Construction, the estate arm of developer Michael Spink’s empire. He is employing acclaimed architect Norman Foster’s company, Foster + Partners, to build his property.

Having given seven-time world champion Lewis Hamilton his big break, Dennis was ousted as McLaren chief executive, after almost 40 years with the F1 giant. He fell out with the other shareholders, Saudi-born businessman Mansour Ojjeh and Bahrain sovereign wealth fund Mumtalakat.

The plot neighbours what was once the most expensive house in Britain — the 500-acre Park Place estate, which was the home of George II’s eldest son.

Park Place was bought by Spink for £42 million in 2007, before being sold to former Bank of Moscow president Andrey Borodin for £140 million. He was granted political asylum in the UK, after clashing with Vladimir Putin’s regime over supposed fraud charges.

Now, the British Business Ambassador has submitted plans which show he hopes to build the most spectacular new home in England for £30 million. It will contain features that wouldn't look out of place in the lair of a James Bond villain

Now, the British Business Ambassador has submitted plans which show he hopes to build the most spectacular new home in England for £30 million. It will contain features that wouldn’t look out of place in the lair of a James Bond villain

It’s Ghislaine Maxwell, the stage show. A one-woman play about the convicted sex trafficker is to be put on at the Edinburgh Fringe. 

Actress Kristin Winters says her play will see Maxwell ‘trapped in the prison’ of psychological abuse by Jeffrey Epstein. 

She’s based her character on Henrik Ibsen’s Hedda Gabler, saying, ‘[There was] something magnetic and mysterious about her’.

 Nigella isn’t sorry about feminism

Domestic goddess Nigella Lawson, who claimed she was subjected to ‘intimate terrorism’ during her ten-year marriage to art mogul Charles Saatchi, says that women no longer have to apologise for everything.

Using International Women’s Day to reflect on how things have changed since she was a teenager, the 62-year-old TV cook says: ‘You were trained to be a bit apologetic, softly spoken, not causing any trouble.

Domestic goddess Nigella Lawson, who claimed she was subjected to 'intimate terrorism' during her ten-year marriage to art mogul Charles Saatchi, says that women no longer have to apologise for everything

Domestic goddess Nigella Lawson, who claimed she was subjected to ‘intimate terrorism’ during her ten-year marriage to art mogul Charles Saatchi, says that women no longer have to apologise for everything

‘We were trained to go through life as if we were trying to go to our seat in a theatre, squeezing past people’s knees and apologising as we did it: ‘Excuse me, excuse me’.’

Nigella, who separated from Saatchi, 78, in 2013, adds: ‘There is still work to do, but I love hearing young women now taking it for granted that they will be able to move forward in the world.’

Lily Allen has revealed her favourite dish — and haute cuisine it ain’t.

The pop star and actress says it’s known in her family as ‘cheese pie’. Allen, 36, explains: ‘It’s a casserole dish with two tins of spaghetti in the tomato sauce with a layer of cheesy mashed potato on top. And then put in the oven.

‘It’s really, really gross, but I love it.’

Dua Lipa’s ex falls for Game of Thrones star 

Pop princess Dua Lipa’s ex-boyfriend, the chef Isaac Carew, is enjoying a sizzling new romance.

Former model Isaac, 35, has revealed he’s squiring actress Nell Tiger Free, 22, who starred in sex-and-dragons drama Game Of Thrones.

‘We’re official now,’ Isaac tells me at a London party. ‘I took her on a date to a nice restaurant and we had fun.’

Pop princess Dua Lipa's ex-boyfriend, the chef Isaac Carew, is enjoying a sizzling new romance

Pop princess Dua Lipa’s ex-boyfriend, the chef Isaac Carew, is enjoying a sizzling new romance

Kingston upon Thames-born Nell is based in New York, but Isaac, who wrote The Dirty Dishes cookbook, has no plans to move to the Big Apple.

‘Long distance is nothing to me because we’re talking all the time and use FaceTime. London is home to me. Maybe she’ll come to the UK,’ he says. 

Nell, who played the daughter of incestuous siblings Jaime and Cersei Lannister in Game Of Thrones, is now starring in Apple TV+ hit Servant.

Former model Isaac, 35, has revealed he's squiring actress Nell Tiger Free, 22, who starred in sex-and-dragons drama Game Of Thrones

Former model Isaac, 35, has revealed he’s squiring actress Nell Tiger Free, 22, who starred in sex-and-dragons drama Game Of Thrones

The Queen doesn’t plan to sleep at Buckingham Palace again, but will keep moving between her other homes. 

That’s clear from an advert for a maid who will have to travel between Windsor Castle and other royal residences. 

‘You’ll care for a wide range of interiors,’ says the advert on the royal website.

Otis lends a helping hand to Ukraine 

While some famous figures, including the model Caprice, indulge in publicity stunts such as stripping naked to protest against the war, others are finding more practical ways to help Ukraine.

Burberry model Otis Ferry is driving a van to the war zone to take much-needed donations, such as first-aid kits, hot water bottles and nappies, to victims of Russia’s invasion.

Burberry model Otis Ferry is driving a van to the war zone to take much-needed donations, such as first-aid kits, hot water bottles and nappies, to victims of Russia's invasion

Burberry model Otis Ferry is driving a van to the war zone to take much-needed donations, such as first-aid kits, hot water bottles and nappies, to victims of Russia’s invasion

‘I’m joining a convoy taking supplies to help refugees fleeing,’ the son of Roxy Music legend Bryan Ferry tells me. My van is completely filled with medical supplies, sleeping bags, warm clothes and other assorted comforts.’

Ferry, 39, was lent the van by Belvoir Castle, the ancestral home of his girlfriend Lady Alice Manners (pictured with Otis), 26, a daughter of the Duke of Rutland.

And last night, he was speeding through Germany.

Here’s one for the diary: Samuel Pepys is getting married. 

I hear that the 35-year-old son of the 8th Earl of Cottenham, who’s related to the 17th-century diarist, is now engaged to an Italian, Giorgia Delsante. Sam’s father, who died in 2000 aged 51, was a fast bowler who went on to set up language schools around the country. 

The linguist’s gene can be traced back to Pepys, who often used different languages as a code to write about his affairs in his diary.

Jessica’s IVF heartbreak

Downton Abbey star Jessica Brown Findlay, who married fellow Harlots actor Ziggy Heath during the pandemic with just 30 guests at their wedding, has revealed they’re struggling to have a baby.

The actress, 32, who played Lady Sybil in ITV’s hit period drama, used International Women’s Day to tell fans that she’s undergoing gruelling fertility treatment.

‘We do hard things and then go dancing,’ she says. ‘IVF has made me even more aware of just how much women are capable of and what we can achieve whilst going through pain and heartbreak.

‘Your body is not the enemy. Love it. No matter what. Sending love and support to every woman I have ever met and all the ones I haven’t but know what this is.’

Downton Abbey star Jessica Brown Findlay, who married fellow Harlots actor Ziggy Heath during the pandemic with just 30 guests at their wedding, has revealed they're struggling to have a baby

Downton Abbey star Jessica Brown Findlay, who married fellow Harlots actor Ziggy Heath during the pandemic with just 30 guests at their wedding, has revealed they’re struggling to have a baby

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Would YOU live here? Seaside cottage with stunning coastal views is branded ‘uninhabitable’ and ‘unsafe’ in listing – but is on the market for just £75,000

  • Woodbine Cottage in Ardersier, near Inverness has been put on the market 
  • The four-bedroom home has remarkable views of the Moray Firth 

A seaside cottage with stunning coastal views has been branded ‘uninhabitable’ and ‘unsafe’ in its listing – but has still gone on the market for just £75,000.

Potential buyers of Woodbine Cottage in Ardersier, near Inverness, may get some remarkable views of the Moray Firth, but also face a massive renovation job to make the building fit to live in.

Photos show the interior of the four-bedroom home, which has been vandalised and left littered with old clothes and belongings.

The property will require extensive works throughout, but Auction House Scotland believes it ‘offers a fantastic opportunity to create a stunning family home’.

The house, which includes a garage, has been ‘extensively extended’ to create a total floor area of over 350 sqm – which could be converted into a family home or a rental opportunity.

Woodbine Cottage in Ardersier, near Inverness, comes with a remarkable view of the Moray Firth - but potential buyers face a massive renovation job

Woodbine Cottage in Ardersier, near Inverness, comes with a remarkable view of the Moray Firth – but potential buyers face a massive renovation job

Photos show the interior of the home, which has been vandalised and left littered with old clothes and belongings

Photos show the interior of the home, which has been vandalised and left littered with old clothes and belongings

The seaside cottage has been branded 'uninhabitable' and 'unsafe' in its listing

The seaside cottage has been branded ‘uninhabitable’ and ‘unsafe’ in its listing

The property will require extensive works throughout, but Auction House Scotland believe the house 'offers a fantastic opportunity to create a stunning family home'

The property will require extensive works throughout, but Auction House Scotland believe the house ‘offers a fantastic opportunity to create a stunning family home’

‘The property further offers garden areas to front and rear, with the upper floor balconies enjoying great views over the Moray Firth,’ reads the listing.

‘The property is currently unhabitable, hence no Home Report is available, but a full programme of works would add massive value and offers the opportunity to adapt the current accommodation format subject, of course, to any required permissions/warrants.

‘The potential and value on offer is sure to attract strong levels of demand and, as such, early viewing is essential to avoid missing out.’ 

The original stone built dwelling has been extensively extended with the addition of north and south wings to create a total floor are in excess of 350 sq.

Auction House Scotland believe the property offers a fantastic opportunity to create a ‘stunning family home’ or to be rented out to holidaymakers. 

They also claim that a full programme of works would add ‘massive value’ to the building. 

The stunning view of the Moray Firth seen from the property

The stunning view of the Moray Firth seen from the property 

Auction House Scotland believe the property offers a fantastic opportunity to create a 'stunning family home' or to be rented out to holidaymakers

Auction House Scotland believe the property offers a fantastic opportunity to create a ‘stunning family home’ or to be rented out to holidaymakers

They also claim that a full programme of works would add 'massive value' to the building

They also claim that a full programme of works would add ‘massive value’ to the building

Once renovations are completed, the property will have a council tax band of C.

Mandi Cooper, Managing Director of Auction House Scotland, said: ‘Woodbine Cottage is certainly a project suited to a keen developer or investor, and it deserves to be lovingly renovated back to its former glory.

‘With huge opportunity to add value, and holiday lets in the Highlands being an ever-popular way to generate income, this would also be ideal for serviced accommodation providers.’

Woodbine Cottage will go to auction on May 30 with Auction House Scotland, with a viewing date of May 22

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Top 10 Florida Cities Dominate The Business Startup Landscape In The U.S.

Top 10 Florida Cities And Business Startup Landscape In The U.S.

The Voice Of EU | Florida emerges as a hub for entrepreneurial endeavors, with its vibrant business landscape and conducive environment for startups. Renowned for its low corporate tax rates and a high concentration of investors, the Sunshine State beckons aspiring entrepreneurs seeking fertile grounds to launch and grow their businesses.

In a recent report by WalletHub, Florida cities dominate the list of the top 10 best destinations for business startups, showcasing their resilience and economic vitality amidst challenging times.

From Orlando’s thriving market to Miami’s dynamic ecosystem, each city offers unique advantages and opportunities for entrepreneurial success. Let’s delve into the chronologically listed cities that exemplify Florida’s prominence in the business startup arena.

1. Orlando Leads the Way: Orlando emerges as the most attractive market in the U.S. for business startups, with a remarkable surge in small business establishments. WalletHub’s latest report highlights Orlando’s robust ecosystem, fostering the survival and growth of startups, buoyed by a high concentration of investors per capita.

2. Tampa Takes Second Place: Securing the second spot among large cities for business startups, Tampa boasts a favorable business environment attributed to its low corporate tax rates. The city’s ample investor presence further fortifies startups, providing essential resources for navigating the initial years of business operations.

3. Charlotte’s Diverse Industries: Claiming the third position, Charlotte stands out for its diverse industrial landscape and exceptionally low corporate taxes, enticing companies to reinvest capital. This conducive environment propels entrepreneurial endeavors, contributing to sustained economic growth.

4. Jacksonville’s Rising Profile: Jacksonville emerges as a promising destination for startups, bolstered by its favorable business climate. The city’s strategic positioning fosters entrepreneurial ventures, attracting aspiring business owners seeking growth opportunities.

5. Miami’s Entrepreneurial Hub: Miami solidifies its position as a thriving entrepreneurial hub, attracting businesses with its dynamic ecosystem and strategic location. The city’s vibrant startup culture and supportive infrastructure make it an appealing destination for ventures of all sizes.

6. Atlanta’s Economic Momentum: Atlanta’s ascent in the business startup landscape underscores its economic momentum and favorable business conditions. The city’s strategic advantages and conducive policies provide a fertile ground for entrepreneurial ventures to flourish.

7. Fort Worth’s Business-Friendly Environment: Fort Worth emerges as a prime destination for startups, offering a business-friendly environment characterized by low corporate taxes. The city’s supportive ecosystem and strategic initiatives facilitate the growth and success of new ventures.

8. Austin’s Innovation Hub: Austin cements its status as an innovation hub, attracting startups with its vibrant entrepreneurial community and progressive policies. The city’s robust infrastructure and access to capital foster a conducive environment for business growth and innovation.

9. Durham’s Emerging Entrepreneurship Scene: Durham’s burgeoning entrepreneurship scene positions it as a promising destination for startups, fueled by its supportive ecosystem and strategic initiatives. The city’s collaborative culture and access to resources contribute to the success of new ventures.

10. St. Petersburg’s Thriving Business Community: St. Petersburg rounds off the top 10 with its thriving business community and supportive ecosystem for startups. The city’s strategic advantages and favorable business climate make it an attractive destination for entrepreneurial endeavors.

Despite unprecedented challenges posed by the COVID-19 pandemic, the Great Resignation, and high inflation, these top Florida cities remain resilient and well-equipped to overcome obstacles, offering promising opportunities for business owners and entrepreneurs alike.


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European Startup Ecosystems Awash With Gulf Investment – Here Are Some Of The Top Investors

European Startup Ecosystem Getting Flooded With Gulf Investments

The Voice Of EU | In recent years, European entrepreneurs seeking capital infusion have widened their horizons beyond the traditional American investors, increasingly turning their gaze towards the lucrative investment landscape of the Gulf region. With substantial capital reservoirs nestled within sovereign wealth funds and corporate venture capital entities, Gulf nations have emerged as compelling investors for European startups and scaleups.

According to comprehensive data from Dealroom, the influx of investment from Gulf countries into European startups soared to a staggering $3 billion in 2023, marking a remarkable 5x surge from the $627 million recorded in 2018.

This substantial injection of capital, accounting for approximately 5% of the total funding raised in the region, underscores the growing prominence of Gulf investors in European markets.

Particularly noteworthy is the significant support extended to growth-stage companies, with over two-thirds of Gulf investments in 2023 being directed towards funding rounds exceeding $100 million. This influx of capital provides a welcome boost to European companies grappling with the challenge of securing well-capitalized investors locally.

Delving deeper into the landscape, Sifted has identified the most active Gulf investors in European startups over the past two years.

Leading the pack is Aramco Ventures, headquartered in Dhahran, Saudi Arabia. Bolstered by a substantial commitment, Aramco Ventures boasts a $1.5 billion sustainability fund, alongside an additional $4 billion allocated to its venture capital arm, positioning it as a formidable player with a total investment capacity of $7 billion by 2027. With a notable presence in 17 funding rounds, Aramco Ventures has strategically invested in ventures such as Carbon Clean Solutions and ANYbotics, aligning with its focus on businesses that offer strategic value.

Following closely is Mubadala Capital, headquartered in Abu Dhabi, UAE, with an impressive tally of 13 investments in European startups over the past two years. Backed by the sovereign wealth fund Mubadala Investment Company, Mubadala Capital’s diverse investment portfolio spans private equity, venture capital, and alternative solutions. Notable investments include Klarna, TIER, and Juni, reflecting its global investment strategy across various sectors.

Ventura Capital, based in Dubai, UAE, secured its position as a key player with nine investments in European startups. With a presence in Dubai, London, and Tokyo, Ventura Capital boasts an international network of limited partners and a sector-agnostic investment approach, contributing to its noteworthy investments in companies such as Coursera and Spotify.

Qatar Investment Authority, headquartered in Doha, Qatar, has made significant inroads into the European startup ecosystem with six notable investments. As the sovereign wealth fund of Qatar, QIA’s diversified portfolio spans private and public equity, infrastructure, and real estate, with strategic investments in tech startups across healthcare, consumer, and industrial sectors.

MetaVision Dubai, a newcomer to the scene, has swiftly garnered attention with six investments in European startups. Focusing on seed to Series A startups in the metaverse and Web3 space, MetaVision raised an undisclosed fund in 2022, affirming its commitment to emerging technologies and innovative ventures.

Investcorp, headquartered in Manama, Bahrain, has solidified its presence with six investments in European startups. With a focus on mid-sized B2B businesses, Investcorp’s diverse investment strategies encompass private equity, real estate, infrastructure, and credit management, contributing to its notable investments in companies such as Terra Quantum and TruKKer.

Chimera Capital, based in Abu Dhabi, UAE, rounds off the list with four strategic investments in European startups. As part of a prominent business conglomerate, Chimera Capital leverages its global reach and sector-agnostic approach to drive investments in ventures such as CMR Surgical and Neat Burger.

In conclusion, the burgeoning influx of capital from Gulf investors into European startups underscores the region’s growing appeal as a vibrant hub for innovation and entrepreneurship. With key players such as Aramco Ventures, Mubadala Capital, and Ventura Capital leading the charge, European startups are poised to benefit from the strategic investments and partnerships forged with Gulf investors, propelling them towards sustained growth and success in the global market landscape.


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