The Lions Houses in Barnes, South West London are beautiful, red brick period properties that command chunky £3-4 million price tags.
At around 2,000 sqr ft the homes are already spacious, but not spacious enough for wealthy Candy Crush executive Nick Pointon and his wife Claire whose plans to excavate a whopping 1,700 sqr ft basement have been recommended for approval by Richmond Council.
The news infuriated a raft of celebrity neighbours, including ex-Arsenal and England footballer Lee Dixon and former Newsnight presenter Peter Snow.
Alongside children’s author Judith Kerr, Dixon, Snow and others have written a total of 102 letters to Richmond Council objecting to the plans, claiming a basement beneath the three-storey house would increase the risk of damage and subsidence to nearby homes.
Dixon, 52, who lives on the same road as the Pointons said, “Many houses in the area including mine are suffering from subsidence to some degree…I feel the digging out of basements in the area which has become frequent is contributing to an unstable foundation within the Lions Houses region.”
Veteran broadcaster Peter Snow was equally outraged, “We are astonished that this application has progressed as far as it has… buildings in and adjacent to this terrace are built on very precarious soil and that undermining them caused unacceptable collateral damage.”
Mr Snow added, “the original architects of these fine and substantially weighty buildings would be flabbergasted if they knew that anyone contemplated digging out basements underneath the houses they designed over 100 years ago.”
The basement itself will nearly double the size of the lavish property and will add a new games room, cinema, utility room and wine cellar.
In response to resident’s protests, upmarket Kensington and the City of Westminster councils have imposed restrictions on the size of new basements, however no such ruling has been made in Richmond.
Privately educated at the prestigious Wellington College in Berkshire, 46-year-old Mr. Pointon is VP of Finance for King, the firm who created the wildly popular Candy Crush Saga app.
Pointon hit back at the ‘basemoaners’ saying he had been “unfairly targeted by a coordinated neighbourhood campaign driven by the fear that the way they remember previous basement work would be repeated”.
“We bought a house next to a property which already had a basement in the reasonable expectation we could add a basement to our own home.”
Snow and Dixon aren’t the first celebrity basemoaners, last year Queen Guitarist Brian May eloquently branded homeowners building basement extensions in Kensington as “basement-building bast*rds”.
DMZ are sceptical of planning disputes like this; as long as the proposition is structurally sound, professionally verified and in-keeping with the neighbourhood it usually boils down to NIMBY inconvenience for neighbours.
Dixon himself has a keen interest in property and has enjoyed huge appreciation on his real estate assets. He started a (now-defunct) buying agency called OakHill Property Source after his retirement in 2005 and also reportedly owns property in Cornwall and LA. He allegedly purchased his Barnes home for £1.45million in 2008, which is now worth in the region of £3million, perhaps Lee could use his house valuation to re-finance and construct a new basement floor? Just a suggestion.