London mega-basement blocked to save plane trees

One of the largest and most expensive basement developments in central London has been blocked because of the impact it would have on trees including two 20m-tall mature planes in its garden.

London plane tree - image:Rhian vK
London plane tree - image:Rhian vK

Kensington & Chelsea council has thrown out plans by Conservative Party donor Edmund Lazarus and his wife Carol for a triple-decker subterranean complex beneath their £20m Victorian villa in Holland Park.

The plan, featuring swimming pool, two-level gym, sauna and wine cellar, was one of the most lavish yet of the so-called "iceberg homes" being developed in the capital, which have more room below ground than above.

The council is thought to be under pressure to stem the tide of such developments.

Executive director in charge of planning Jonathan Bore ruled that the excavation would require severing roots of the trees, compromising their health.

"The impact of development on the health, stability, appearance and longevity of high quality trees on and near the site would be such the character and appearance of the property and the Holland Park Conservation Area would be harmful altered," he said in a report.

Edmund Lazarus made his fortune as an investment banker and founder of a private equity firm. He has served as a councillor, and was appointed chairman of the £100m London Green Fund, a project to cut carbon emissions.


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