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Row over Hampstead property magnate’s plans for Elizabeth Taylor and Peter Sellers party lawn

Property magnate Debbie Dove in the garden where Peter Sellers and Elizabeth Taylor once partied. Picture: Nigel Sutton Property magnate Debbie Dove in the garden where Peter Sellers and Elizabeth Taylor once partied. Picture: Nigel Sutton

Friday, February 22, 2013
12:04 PM

A property magnate claims she has been harassed and threatened by neighbours after seeking permission to build a basement health spa in the back garden of writer Robert Louis Stevenson’s former 18th century Hampstead home.

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An artist's impression of the leisure complex which could be built in a basement extension under the lawnAn artist's impression of the leisure complex which could be built in a basement extension under the lawn

Debbie Dove, who owns an impressive property portfolio once valued at £80million, has submitted plans to dig up the garden of the Grade II-listed property, where the author of Treasure Island lived.

She wants to install a luxury leisure complex underneath the small plot of grass, where, during the 60s, the likes of Peter Sellers and Elizabeth Taylor enjoyed garden parties.

But the divorced mother-of-two says that, after meeting fierce opposition, she is considering legal action against her neighbours.

She said: “I have been texted and emailed constantly. They have said that, for my own benefit, it would be better to drop the application.

Property magnate Debbie Dove claims she has been 'harassed and threatened' by neighbours over the plans. Picture: Nigel SuttonProperty magnate Debbie Dove claims she has been 'harassed and threatened' by neighbours over the plans. Picture: Nigel Sutton

“We are literally going to have to go for harassment soon. All the neighbours in the nearby area have rallied against me.”

Although Ms Dove tried to sell the property some years ago, she now hopes to keep the cottage, built in 1779, for her two daughters.

The three-bedroom property, once home to former Chief Justice John Coleridge, the great-nephew of poet Samuel Taylor Coleridge, backs onto Ms Dove’s own Hampstead mansion.

One neighbour said the plans would be totally out of keeping with the rest of the village – but would not be out of place along the gaudy The Bishops Avenue in Hampstead Garden Suburb, known as Billionaires’ Row.

English Heritage has not yet been consulted on the plans.

If the proposals win Camden Council’s approval, developers will dig more than six metres down to install a swimming pool – complete with a waterfall feature – sauna, steam room, gym and bar.

The entire structure would be covered by a turfed roof.

A statement by Judd Architecture, the company that has drawn up the plans submitted to Camden planning officials, said: “The proposal is to excavate an area of the existing garden to create an underground swimming pool/leisure complex.

“This will have no impact at all on the listed building and minimal impact on the appearance of the garden.

“The roof structure will gently rise up from the existing ground plane. In keeping with maintaining the appearance of the garden, all trees will remain.”

People can comment on the plans through the council’s website until March 7.

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