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Neighbours turn against each other as mega basement wars continue

PUBLISHED: 18:48 07 March 2016 | UPDATED: 18:49 07 March 2016

Planning applications for iceberg houses have caused neighbourly relations in west and north London to turn frosty

Planning applications for iceberg houses have caused neighbourly relations in west and north London to turn frosty

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Love thy neighbour? Not if they plan on building a mega basement next door. Karen Buck, Labour MP for Westminster North is the latest to speak out about the ongoing battles over planning applications

Continuing basement wars have seen London’s neighbours turn against each other at an increasing rate.

Speaking to The Washington Post Karen Buck, Labour MP for Westminster North said: “It’s a really big central London problem.”

Her comment came after planning applications from former Foxton’s chief executive Jon Hunt almost caused a diplomatic incident.

Mr Hunt started applying for planning permission to build a five-story basement under his Kensington palace gardens mansion back in 2008. The original plans included a rotating ferris wheel to house his car collection.

Sylvie Berman, the French Ambassador and Mr Hunt’s next door neighbour, has launched a new legal challenge at the Court of Appeal after losing her battle against the planned extension in the High Court last year.

The Japanese Embassy also took umbrage. Last month they wrote that Hunt’s mega-basement plans would have an: “adverse impact on our diplomatic activities which require tranquillity and privacy.”

In a rare moment of international unity, Ambassadors from Saudi Arabia, Japan, Lebanon, Russia and India all signed a letter of protest against Hunt’s proposal, which was sent to the Foreign Office and the Crown Estate.

Amanda Frame, chairman of residents association the Kensington Society likened the rash of basement applications to a virus.

“I call it the Ebola syndrome,” she said. “If one street had one, then suddenly everyone would start putting in applications, and there are streets that are just riddled with them.”

North London has seen its fair share of basement battling in 2016.

In January of this year Islington became the third London borough to introduce additional restrictions on basement construction, along with Westminster and Kensington and Chelsea.

Last month Camden council was forced to make a statement promising that an 11,700-strong petition against a basement development next to AIR Studios would be upheld. The confusion came after Andrew and Elizabeth Jeffreys made two successive applications to build an entertainment and spa complex under their home in Rosslyn Hill.

No matter how rich you are, neighbourly affection seems to be something money can’t buy.

Just a few streets over from Mr Hunt, two hedge fund managers are locked in combat over one of their plans to create an iceberg home.

Richard Deitz, president of Moscow-based VR Capital wants to build a 3,5000ft subterranean extension to his Grade II listed house in Holland Park. His neighbour Tim Tacchi, founder of hedge fund TT International has already taken his case against the application to court.

Marina Nacheva, Mr Deitz’s wife, expressed her disappointment in the breakdown of neighbourly relations to the Evening Standard.

“I come from Bulgaria and grew up in a village where your neighbours are the most important people in your life,” she said. “My understanding of neighbours from there is totally different to my experience of them in London.”


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