It comes as no surprise that the areas of Kingston and Chelsea are home to the wealthy, with lavishly designed homes and equally beautiful surroundings. What might come as a surprise is that now if you took a walk in these areas, you might discover conveyor belts as high as the buildings themselves and skips brimming with rubble… do the residents know something we don’t? Are they digging for gold?
Some residents are not too pleased with the uproar of commotion that is going on, disturbing the elegance of the wedding-cake mansions. Some people went as far to say “It feels like they’ve turned Kensington into a war zone.”
The reason behind all the quarrying is not the discovery of an undiscovered coal-rich mine beneath the streets of Kensington and Chelsea, but rather the development of basements! Over the past four years, this local authority alone has granted planning applications for more than 800 basement extensions… that is a lot of skips! It is the most densely populate borough in the country, with no room to build outwards, and no permission to build upwards – so the only way is down.
But this infectious enthusiasm to build down is not to everyone’s liking. In November 2012 a fit of anger erupted when plans were released for a four-storey basement beneath a 19th century schoolhouse in Knightsbridge, for Canadian former TV mogul David Graham.
I know what you’re thinking… four-storey building!?! Well this gargantuan sized basement (if you could call it that) will plunge deeper into the ground than the height of neighboring homes. It would house a ballroom and swimming pool, with hot tub, sauna and massage room, as well as 15 bedrooms, seven bathrooms and 20 toilets.
The Duchess of St Albans who just so happens to be a neighbor says “These plans are absolutely monstrous and unnecessary, it’s just absolute greed. No one needs that much space. Quite apart from that, the commotion is going to be dreadful.” The mail online estimates David Graham – a former cable TV mogul – 19th century 12 bedroom underground home conversion in Knightsbridge to be worth in the regions of £90 million once the works are completed.
But this one man isn’t the only one who is building a ‘billionaires basement’, the past 5 years has seen underground leisure lairs excavated across west London, from Knightsbridge to Belgravia, Fulham to Notting Hill. It is leading to a kind of iceberg architecture, a modest mansion on the surface just the visible peak of a vast underworld, with subterranean possibilities only limited by the resident’s imagination.
With all this in mind, if you are thinking of moving, or buying your first/next property, why not start the search here.