London Mayor's sister Rachel Johnson and Gogglebox producer Stephen Lambert on winning side in Notting Hill neighbours' battle of the basements

​One of Britain’s leading television producers is celebrating after fighting off a neighbouring couple's plans to create an "iceberg house".
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Stephen Lambert, who has won a clutch of Baftas for work on prime-time shows including Gogglebox, The Secret Millionaire and Faking It, led protests in Notting Hill against Igor and Christina Kryca’s plans to build a basement extension beneath their home.

The couple wanted extra space for a cinema room, gym, play room and utility and storage rooms, plus an overground extension behind their terrace house.

“All of us living in these houses are extremely worried about the structural damage that any basement development may cause,” said Lambert in a letter of objection to Kensington & Chelsea council.

Lambert, who is married to award-winning journalist Jenni Russell, also expressed concerns about the noise and disruption the project would cause since Russell works from home. 

“Her working environment will be impossible for 12 months or more if this development goes ahead,” Lambert warned. 

Journalist Rachel Johnson — London Mayor Boris Johnson’s sister — and her husband Ivo Dawnay, London director of the National Trust, also opposed the plans. “These are small, delicate, jerry-built Victorian houses, not Kensington mansions,” they said.

“They are quite unsuitable for deep, subterranean excavations as well as all the attendant noise, traffic movements, disruption, structural damage and environmental impacts works may cause.”

Charity worker Olivia Dix objected to the loss of trees the plan would involve. “This is an inappropriately grandiose scheme for the street that will not add any benefit to a conservation area, but will cause a great deal of disruption to neighbours for at least a year,” she said. 

Amanda Frame of The Kensington Society joined neighbours in objecting to the plans. She added: “This site is very narrow and is surrounded by homes with young children. Noise from 8am to 6pm Monday to Friday and 8am to 1pm on Saturdays will make their life hell for 50 weeks.”

It wasn’t all bad news for the Krycas, as they did get some local support for the plan. Cezary Pietrasik, who lives in the area, wrote to the council urging them to approve the scheme. 

“If young families cannot buy a house in the Royal Borough of Kensington & Chelsea and renovate to suit their needs, the borough will be overwhelmingly populated by retirees as old as the houses they live in,” he said. 

However, it has emerged that Jonathan Bore, Kensington & Chelsea’s planning chief, refused the plans, describing them as “visually obtrusive”. Bore also warned that the Krycas had failed to prove their works would not cause structural damage to neighbouring homes.


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