Richard Reed, the multi-millionaire co-founder of the Innocent smoothie empire, has enraged his neighbours with plans to build a “sports complex” underneath his home in West London.
Reed, who with his two partners sold the smoothie brand to Coca-Cola for a reported £300 million, has submitted plans for a basement under two properties worth £5 million.
According to the Evening Standard, the entrepreneur wants to dig beneath a converted Victorian community hall and an adjacent terraced house, both of which he bought in 2015.
The “iceberg” extension would be 3.5 metres deep and include a 7.5 metre swimming pool, a gym, changing rooms, a plant room and a sauna.
One neighbour told the newspaper: “It’s going to cause a hell of a lot of noise. It will drive us crazy. The construction is going to be such a long process.”
Kensington and Chelsea council rejected a previous proposal by Reed, 45, because of concerns it could damage a neighbour’s lime tree.
Fourteen residents have written to the council objecting to the latest plan.
“Happily, with our growing number of children, the scheme is to extend our family home,” Reed said. “The application fits well within K&C planning requirements and we can assure our neighbours that no trees will be hurt or water tables affected, and any disturbances kept to an absolute minimum.”
However, Kensington Society chairwoman Amanda Frame said the former hall should be protected because of its link to social reformer Octavia Hill, a contemporary of Charles Dickens. The “drill hall” was an education centre for impoverished women and was later used as a concert venue during the Second World War.
Meanwhile, neighbour Lady Emma Barnard and her husband James argued that the basement would amalgamate two properties into one: “This is an application to construct a mega-basement sports complex under two properties … overall provision of housing stock in RBKC would be reduced because the cottage would cease to be a separate unit.”
Ex-judge Sir Andrew Morritt, who was Chancellor of the High Court of England and Wales, raised concerns about tree damage and flooding, but planning officers have recommended the application be approved.
Reed’s agents claimed discussions have been had with adjacent neighbours, who have shown support.
Reed formed Innocent with fellow Cambridge graduates Adam Balon and Jon Wright, starting with £500 of fruit to make drinks at the Jazz on the Green festival in Parsons Green. They sold it in 2013 and now run venture capital fund JamJar Investments.
The Innocent entrepreneur isn’t the only famous name to enrage neighbours with plans for a mega-basement.
Last October, Foxtons founder Jon Hunt was granted permission to build a mega basement at his mansion in Kensington to house his collection of classic cars, following a 10-year battle with neighbours including the French ambassador.
Candy Crush executive Nick Pointon also faced the wrath of his neighbours after plans to excavate a huge 1,700 sq ft basement were recommended for approval by Richmond Council. Neighbours such as ex-Arsenal and England footballer Lee Dixon and former Newsnight presenter Peter Snow wrote over 100 letters to the council objecting to the plans.
DealMakerz thinks the council is likely to accept Reed’s plans, as recent figures reveal 4,650 mega-basements have been approved across London in just under a decade.
The combined depth of every basement approved by seven London boroughs in the past decade is an astonishing 50,160 ft – which is 50 times the height of The Shard.
Want to know the story behind Britain's latest property mogul? Why a company is going bust? Our coverage goes beyond run-of-the-mill news on key real estate issues.
Our subscribers are made up of the most influential Founders and CEO's in UK property. Gain a competitive edge and get informed - read what they read.
Understand exactly what the most senior figures in UK property are thinking. Exclusive opinion articles from powerful real estate influencers that move markets.