A group of 18 residents at The Boltons, SW10, which was recently named Britain’s second most expensive street after Kensington Palace Gardens, has protested after American-born billionaire debt collector Paul Burdell, 52, and his wife Selina, 42, revealed plans to demolish two existing houses to make way for what they describe as a “stunning modern interpretation” of the street’s traditional Italian villas. Houses in The Boltons average more than £10 million each.
The proposed property, with sunken gardens and a spa, has been described by neighbours as a “hideous monstrosity in a street full of beautiful houses”.
The couple, who run debt-chasing firm Link Financial, with a portfolio of £4.2 billion, say they are determined to win an appeal after council officials described their planned new home as “bulky” and “overbearing”.
The new property has a stark, rectangular façade, studded with a series of huge balconied windows, quite different from The Boltons’ Italianate villas. The house has been designed with a three storey basement containing a pool, Jacuzzi, sauna, gym, home cinema and living rooms, as well as a subterranean car park. In the four upper floors there are five bedrooms, and a large office on the upper floor. Outside the property has been given a sunken garden.
The 18 neighbours, who wish to remain unnamed, have objected to the proposals and Kensington and Chelsea council turned down the proposals on February 22, arguing that “by virtue of its bulk and design”, the home would cause “significant harm” to the area.
Despite the opposition, the Burdell’s intend to fight the council all the way to a planning inquiry. The plans were originally submitted in 2009, and redrawn last year. Because of the length of time taken to consider the proposals they have already lodged an appeal against the council’s failure to rule on the scheme.
Mr Burdell, 52, made his fortune running Link Financial, and his wife, who is 42, also works for the firm which specialises in tracking down people who owe money to banks and credit card companies. In 2009 it was censured by the Office of Fair Trading (OFT) after being accused of sending staff out posing as “family friends” to flush out debtors. The OFT described its practices as “unacceptable”. Last year Mrs Burdell donated £25,000 to the Conservative Party.
Mr Burdell described the council’s stance on his plans as “disappointing” and said he was confident of winning the appeal. “The proposal on the table represents a stunning, high-quality, modern interpretation of the surrounding traditional design, which will provide a landmark residence for The Boltons and will be an asset for the conservation area,” he said.
“This has been supported by English Heritage, the Council’s own architecture appraisal panel, as well as its design and conservation officers. Considerable effort has also been made to ensure our neighbours are in no way adversely affected.”