Objections from Lord Leveson and Richard Madeley to mansion plans draw a blank from councillors

Lord Justice Leveson. Picture: PA/Gareth Fuller

Lord Justice Leveson. Picture: PA/Gareth Fuller - Credit: PA Wire/Press Association Images

A group of high-profile Hampstead Garden Suburb residents – including TV presenter Richard Madeley and top judge Lord Justice Leveson – have had their bid to topple plans for a mansion extension near their homes rejected by Barnet Council.

Richard Madeley

Richard Madeley - Credit: PA Wire/Press Association Images

The council’s planning committee approved an application from Scott Franklin to build two first-floor extensions to the east and west side of his luxury six-bedroom house last Wednesday.

Former Lloyds Banking Group chairman Sir Victor Blank. Picture: PA/John Stillwell

Former Lloyds Banking Group chairman Sir Victor Blank. Picture: PA/John Stillwell - Credit: PA Archive/Press Association Ima

It followed objections from a group of about 12 residents, including Mr Madeley, 57 and Lord Leveson, 63, led by ex-Lloyds Banking boss Sir Victor Blank, 70.

However, following the meeting it emerged key planning documents had not been submitted by Mr Franklin, meaning the application will have to be considered again by the planning committee in June.

Last week, members of the planning committee appeared confused about the grounds for opposition upon hearing the objections raised by well-known neighbours.

Cllr Jack Cohen, leader of the council’s Liberal Democrat group, told the meeting: “Quite why there is so much fuss about this, I just don’t understand. There is nothing wrong with it.”

Hampstead Garden Suburb councillor Andrew Harper added: “There have been objections expressed by such luminaries as Richard and Judy and even the distinguished Lord Justice Leveson but it seems to me that those have been largely addressed. I may make myself unpopular, but I don’t actually see that there are any planning grounds to object.”

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The councillors’ comments followed an address to the meeting from barrister Robert Walton, representing the objectors, who said the proposal “constituted over-development of the plot” and would “unbalance the composition of the house”.

The extension plans follow an earlier application from Mr Franklin and his wife Melissa for a basement excavation to house an indoor swimming pool, a games room and wine cellar.

This prompted a High Court challenge from Sir Victor, who tried to obtain an injunction preventing the Hampstead Garden Suburb Trust from approving the basement plans.

Sir Victor and the group of neighbours, including Lord Leveson and Mr Madeley, fear that removing earth to dig a basement could result in damage to neighbouring homes.

Last month, a judge threw out Sir Victor’s claim, insisting there were “no grounds” for an injunction.

In the meantime, Mr Franklin has appealed to the planning inspectorate in relation to the basement swimming pool application on the grounds of “non-determination” after Barnet Council failed to decide on the application within an eight-week deadline.