A luxury homes developer’s plans to build a Beverly Hills-style mansion on north London’s Billionaires’ Row are in jeopardy following a heritage row over the crumbling property that currently sits on the plot.
Jon O’Brien, founder and chief executive of the property company Domvs, plans to build a mansion with 18 two-to-five-bedroom apartments.
However, council officials have warned him he could be refused permission to bulldoze Oak Lodge on The Bishops Avenue – a road nicknamed Billionaires’ Row – despite it being empty for nearly 30 years.
Conservation officers at Barnet council believe the 1927-built house, on a two-acre site, could have been the work of Scottish-born architect John Soutar.
But O’Brien, who bought the property from the Saudi royal family last year, said the claim was a “ruse” to stop him building the mansion and there was no evidence Soutar was involved.
He told the Standard: “They were just trying to put spanners in the works. It’s like ‘computer says no’.”
“Politically, someone somewhere has decided they just don’t like the development and they want to stop it. It’s so frustrating when we’ve been sitting on this site for a year and then they pull this out of the hat when there is absolutely no evidence.”
David Davidson, architectural adviser to the Hampstead Garden Suburb Trust, who was consulted by the council, said he was absolutely convinced that Oak Lodge is the work of Soutar.
“There are 338 homes in the suburb and I know them all,” he said. “I recognise the stylistic detail when I see it and I saw it at Oak Lodge. I would be very surprised if it turned out to be by someone else.”
The proposed block on Billionaires’ Row would have a gym, swimming pool and spa and underground car parking, and retain an existing tennis court on the site.
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