Residents of one of London’s most exclusive addresses fear their lives will be ruined by the noise and disruption of a proposed mega-basement extension.
A company founded by the billionaire prime minister of Lebanon Najib Mikati wants to dig out a two-level subterranean extension for a 50ft pool, cinema, wine cellar, and staff quarters below two properties in Cadogan Gardens, Chelsea.
The plans go before Kensington & Chelsea next week. Residents are appealing to landowner the Earl of Cadogan to use his powers as freeholder to block the development.
Among those most affected would be a 10-flat mansion block next door. One resident said: “One of the reasons I moved here was because of the peace and quiet.
“We are in the centre of London but you wouldn’t know it. All the neighbours respect each other. If they let them dig this out the noise and disruption would be enormous. I for one would move out instantly, and from what I hear many others here would do the same.” According to the plans lodged by the M1 Group, founded by 58-year-old telecoms tycoon Mr Mikati, the aim is to create a single family home.
Terence Bendixson, honorary planning secretary at the Chelsea Society, told the Standard: “The big question is whether the Cadogan Estates can play a role to prevent it that the council cannot.”
Earlier this year Kensington & Chelsea published new draft planning guidelines to limit basement dig-outs to a single floor. But they have been challenged by basement contractors.
Hugh Seaborn, chief executive of Cadogan Estates, said there was a clause in its agreement with M1 requiring the company to seek its permission for any works . However, consent cannot be unreasonably withheld. Mr Seaborn said: “Our general stance of supporting Kensington’s move to control these developments has not changed.”
M1 Group was unavailable for comment.