TV & Movies

Piers Morgan in six year battle with neighbour over ‘super basement’ building works – to store her designer wardrobe

RESIDENTS of a posh London square, including Piers Morgan, have been embroiled in a six-year row with a top Google executive over her plans to build a huge basement for her clothes.

Locals are up in arms about the proposed 500 sq ft super-basement, which will act as storage for her attire depending on the season.

Google European Vice-President Diana Layfield, also a non-executive director at AstraZeneca, and David McDonald, founder of multi-million pound software firm Acturis, own the property and have been trying to force their plans through since 2014 despite local opposition.

The development is still being fought over since the first planning application six years ago, with the project being rejected by the council SIX times before it squeaked through.

Since 2014, Layfield and McDonald have put in 30 planning applications – two are currently outstanding – and appealed five of those decisions.

They’re also wanting to build a new conservatory and make other internal and external alterations.

The Good Morning Britain star, journalist wife Celia Walden, and neighbours have complained about the risk of flooding, damage to adjoining properties, and excessive increase in noise and disruption.

Earlier this month, an £8.5 million Chelsea townhouse – owned by the family of Hollywood film mogul Arthur Abeles – collapsed during construction work on the basement.

In a letter of objection to the council, Piers, 55, called the “concerted and aggressive” plan "excessive and beyond reasonable expectation in this narrow Georgian terrace”, saying the basement was just a cupboard for "storage of winter and summer clothing”.

He added: "Never in the recent history of [the road] has a planning proposal been so opposed by the neighbourhood.”

There were at least 20 complaints from wealthy neighbours such as YouGov CEO Roger Parry, artist Marie-Louise Laband, the Countess of Sutherland and billionaire banker Frank J Sixt, “one of the most successful money managers in the world”.

But since it was initially approved, the owners have repeatedly gone back to the council with new planning conditions. What was meant to be a 66-week project – which many felt was too long in the first place – will soon be in its seventh year and there’s still no end in sight.

Their next-door neighbours Mr and Mrs John Hull have complained a few times, most recently stating: "The residents of the west side of [the square] have been subject to a bombardment of planning applications, usually, we regret to note, during holiday periods, and are threatened now with a further period of some two years of noise, traffic and parking loss and disruption, dust and inconvenience and a serious risk to the immediately proximate properties.

"Irrespective of the clear planning objections, it is extraordinary and inexplicable to us that newcomers to the Square, apparently for the main purpose of creating additional storage space, should be prepared to submit their future close neighbours to this degree of distress and inconvenience.

"As owners of [our house] for over 50 years we have until now never experienced this sort of insensitivity from neighbours to this extent."

Former Goldman Sachs chief Ted Sotir wrote: "I have difficultly understanding why a person would want to store bicycles as far from the place to use them… storage of clothes – each season, clothes need to be moved from the top floor down multiple steps to the bottom floor. Again, seem unusual… the storage location will be great exercise.”

Jan Koeppen, president and CEO of Fox International Channels, Europe and Africa, said local roads were very narrow, adding: “I do not see how we can cope with up to 16 lorries a day.”

Local George Woodruff said the proposal would “rip the heart out” of a key house on the square and the works would “blight the conservation area”.

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