Foxtons founder Jon Hunt has been granted permission to build a mega basement at his mansion in Kensington to house his collection of classic cars.
The billionaire has been embroiled in a 10-year battle to extend his house in Kensington Palace Gardens, known colloquially as Billionaires’ Row.
Hunt and his wife Lois bought the eight-bedroom pad for £15.75 million in 2005.
The extension will increase its value to an estimated £100 million.
Hunt’s plans to create an “iceberg” basement were approved twice by the local authority.
But a diplomatic row ensued when his neighbours, including French ambassador Sylvie Bermann, tried to stop the building works by citing the Vienna Convention.
Bermann, with the support of diplomats from Saudi Arabia, Japan, India, Russia and Lebanon, who also live on the road, argued the plans would disturb the peace of their mission.
Article 22 of the 1961 Vienna Convention states that the state “is under a special duty to take all appropriate steps to protect the premises of the mission against any intrusion or damage.”
Hunt appealed to the Planning Inspectorate when Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea turned down the plans, and he has now been given the go-ahead.
Once the work has been completed the home will be a whopping 51,129 sq ft – the equivalent of 55 typical family homes – making it one of the largest and most valuable private homes in London.
It will include staff quarters and a museum for Hunt’s growing collection of classic cars.
Neil Pope, from the Planning Inspectorate, noted that finance “does not appear to be an obstacle to the appellants’ desire to construct a very sizeable basement development”.
Deal Makerz thinks invoking the Vienna Convention was a bit of a stab in the dark.
But it is surprising that planning permission has been granted, given the crackdown on such schemes.
The number of planning applications for new or extended basements has fallen over the past year, particularly among so-called iceberg homes – those with more space below ground than above.
Kensington and Chelsea has described its basement development policy as the toughest in the country.
The borough is clearly no match for the Planning Inspectorate who highlighted the “considerable resources” Hunt had spent in his pursuit of the scheme.
It’s another example of wealth’s influence.