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Tuesday, 6 November 2012


By great good fortune the Evening Standard are avid readers of the Dame. One of their alert journalists', Maxine Frith,  picked up on the Hornet's revelation of billionaire David Graham's selfish plans for The Old Court House in Walton Street. 
But what are the three Brompton Ward cllrs doing about this threat to ward amenities? We have heard nothing from Cllr Marshall, Mosley or Barkhordar.
Residents have just a couple of days to protest; after that it will too late.
In the meantime the Dame has applied to have the building listed. 

There are some silly comments by on the article so residents might wish to make their voices heard by commenting here

"Knightsbridge neighbours aghast at millionaire’s plan for a three storey basement 
Plans to dig more than 50ft below ground for a sauna, car lift, and ballroom (naturally)"

Famous author Edna O'Brian

Plans for a huge three-storey basement extension that will treble the size of a Knightsbridge house have sparked an angry campaign from neighbours, including novelist Edna O’Brien.
The excavation will descend more than 50 feet below the surface — deeper than the height of neighbouring houses — and will feature a 14 metre swimming pool, hot tub, sauna, massage room, ballroom, covered courtyards, staff accommodation, parking for three vehicles, a turning circle and car lift.
There will also be large wine cellars, an art storage room, gym facilities and his and hers changing rooms at the house owned by David Graham, a Canadian who made hundreds of millions of pounds when he sold his cable television business.
“These plans are absolutely monstrous and unnecessary,” said the Duchess of St Albans, who is among neighbours who have objected. “It’s just absolute greed. No one needs that much space. Quite apart from that, the commotion is going to be dreadful.”
A spokesman for the Milner Road Area Residents Association said: “This is totally out of keeping with the relatively small size of other houses in the area. Why should we all suffer just so one man can indulge his fantasy?”
Mr Graham, 75, who was once married to Barbara Amiel, wife of the disgraced media mogul Conrad Black, bought the former magistrates’ court, which was built as a school in the 19th century, for an undisclosed sum in 2000.
He was granted planning permission to turn it into a family home, with a swimming pool and one basement level. He now wants three more underground storeys, which will cover most of the footprint of the house and extend under the landscaped garden.
According to the planning application submitted to Kensington and Chelsea council, Mr Graham “has been looking for a larger house in the locality which has proved unsuccessful. He therefore wishes to extend his home to provide further accommodation to suit his family’s needs as required by today’s contemporary living.”
Bell Cornwell, the planning company that submitted the application on his behalf, said the conversion would take up to four years and involve moving 1,375 large skipfuls of earth along narrow Ovington Street and around Cadogan Square.
Residents have complained that the council informed only a small number of people in the area about the proposals, with the deadline for objections next week. Local businesses are also concerned about the effect the work will have on trade.
Mona Perlhagan, who owns the Chelsea Textiles shop in Walton Street, said: “It is an absolutely massive job. It is not going to be a pleasant environment for people to work in. It’ll be bad for business, bad for the environment, bad for the residents.”
Gallery owner Stephanie Hoppen said: “It is going to destroy the street. It is the most beautiful house. It is not necessary to make it bigger.” Applications for basement conversions in the borough have quadrupled since 2003 and this year the council said it was drawing up measures — due out by the end of the year — which could limit developments to one floor below ground.
Mr Graham could not be contacted for comment.


  1. Thank Goodness we have the Dame fighting for us....what are the three Brompton Ward cllrs doing?
    The answer? NOTHING

    1. I do think it's rather twee regardless of whether dear David will ever get to enjoy it's amenities. One seriously hopes he does. Shame the servants will be holed up in the basement, but at least David will be able to attract young cheap labour, no ties of course, as all the financially insecure are being shipped out to Liverpool et alia. Imagine do, the hungry clientele of the local bistros and the shifty shutterbugs waiting for the clapping cobblestones to sound the arrival of the Golden Belles to the ball, so de rigueur. Forbes, Fortune, AD, Grand Design, oh sweet forever, Mr Graham and Company have entered the building.

  2. This blog demonstrates the value of local activism. Well done the Dame. Why on earth would a 75 year old man (who according to the laws of nature will not be around for too much longer) be allowed to disrupt the lives of hundreds of people for nearly five years. Cabinet Member for Planning (Cllr Ahern) needs to get a grip

    1. Do as I say, not as we do ..minions strike back. Golly gee, such foretelling reminds me of Camping legends. You know them.. raptures, fire and brimstone, terminator 2.
      With the coming decades, each morning's paper will revive us as we sip the juniper and shake our heads in retrospect, perfusing every word - 'we knew David, we knew'. But will the decades come, was Daniel really just a Great Disappointment, will the whole 'district' be 'burned-over'? Oh sweet marriage of my brothers, sweet Anise, sweet forever, save me from the yersin-mongers, the isaacs, the YEC's and from the 21st of next month!

  3. Cllr Ahern should not feel in the least inhibited about making a robust approach to the Canadian culprit. Paddy need not suffer any embarrassment because he did not go to school with the foreign chappie

  4. Lets hope that this proposal is the straw that breaks the camel's back. It is so gross, so greedy, so insensitive, and so far removed from the duty of care that should be assumed by neighbours, that the Council Planning honchos have no need even to read the papers. It should be thrown out

  5. Cllr Terence Buxton is Chairman of the Planning Applications Committee. An ambitious chap who wants to go far in the Council. His voting history and record shows that he is inclined to play safe, sit on the fence, and make Uriah type noises to those with influence and wealth.

    On this occasion, Cllr Buxton, Kensington and Chelsea expects you to do your duty to the majority. No question about it. Fly swatter is watching you

    1. Buxton (brother in law of the over rated Cllr Fiona Buxton) should take comfort that Edna Obrien and the Duchess of St Albans are up in arms. This should give him a little bit of VIP cover against the Canadian upstart

    2. It should not be forgotten that Cllr Fiona Buxton was the architect of the disastrous Chelsea Care that lost £ millions for the taxpayer. Cllr Buxton now advises other authorities on recruitment

  6. Never heard of this chap Graham

  7. Cllr BArk(without the bite)horder has a new chance to redeem himself and make good on election promises to "do something for my residents". Everyone has long given up on polo playing Cllr Marshall who occupies one of the Brompton seats.

  8. The Milner Read Residents Association has the chance to make a difference. If they get together a list of local VIPs this is a powerful tool to wage war with. Just like James White of the Belgravia residents Association who had his list of local worthies like Bryan Ferry opposing the Sloane Square development. He managed to flush Cllr Moylan down the toilet

  9. There is no point in 15.16 having a go at the Brompton Councillors in this case. They are small fry. No more than dust. The proposed 50 foot basement is a development that is a logical development of the other self indulgent and vulgar projects like Exhibition Road and the rebuilt Holland Park School. In short, it is all part of the Cockell legacy. If the Leader finds support for his vanity projects (£30 million to tart up Exhibition Road in the depths of a recession and £100 million to rebuild a school whose fabric was judged excellent by central Government) then why shouldn't a Canadian with £10 million in the bank dig a 50 foot hole in Brompton? This is an opportunity for Cllr Ahern to start turning around the busted culture in Hornton Street. Cllr Lightfoot is campaigning for the Leadership in the way that he knows how to (twitching and shouting at Council Meetings) but Cllr Ahern can take a different route to establish some Leadership credentials.

  10. As a recent recruit to the Dame's fan club I have to admit I am puzzled. It seems to me that there are a number of Dames. Does anyone know who they are? I have to say she is a joy to read and really seems to know what is going on.

  11. In my view from an environmental view there is no way this should be allowed. It fails on every point in any civilised society. I think that if this Mr Graham really does wish to build something so enormous he would have been better off buying some land in the desert or closer to home why not near the Olympics Village; local residents there have been battered into submission! So much for living in a democracy.

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