Regarding the Wytham Abbey purchase, there has been discussion over whether or not optics should be considered when making decisions.
Some objections include that optics can be hard to correctly predict / understand, and thinking around optics could be prone to motivated reasoning, so optics should be set aside for decision making.
But the same is true for almost every aspect of EA, aside from the highly empirical randomista development wing!
Especially over the longer term, optics affects community building, including how many people get into EA, and maybe more importantly, who gets into EA, i.e, what kind of pre-existing beliefs and opinions they bring with them. As EAs aim to improve government policy in EA priority areas, EA's optics affects their ability to do this. Optics also affect how EA ideas diffuse outside of EA, and where they diffuse to.
Like with every other hard to predict, highly uncertain factor that goes into lots of EA decision making, we should make uncertain estimates around optics anyway, work on constantly refining our predictions around optics, and include optics as a factor when working out the EV of decisions.
(Of course, one might still decide it's worth making big purchases for community building, but optics should be taken into account!)