A mobile phone billionaire has plans to create a London super-mansion the size of Westminster Cathedral.
© Georgie Gillard
John Caudwell, co-founder of Phones4U, wants to link to neighbouring Mayfair mansions with a subterranean leisure complex to give him 50,000sq ft of space, including a ballroom and his own multi-storey car park.
Westminster council has been asked to give him permission to combine two listed homes in Chesterfield Gardens and Chesterfield Street — a Georgian townhouse and a former members club. The finished single building would have a 13,519sq ft two-storey basement big enough to hold 27 typical one-bedroom flats.
The property was formerly owned by Prince Jefri, brother of the Sultan of Brunei, who refurbished it to luxurious standards.
Mr Caudwell - who, according to Forbes Magazine, has built up a fortune of £1.62 billion - bought it for a reported £81 million last year. The Stamp Duty bill for this purchase will, therefore, have been £5.67 million. Refurbishment on the scale he plans, to a design by MSMR architects, could easily cost another £50 million. However, once completed, the property could be worth £250 million.
At present the property measures just less than 35,000 sq ft, but the extensions will make the property one of the largest private residence in the heart of London, with a total of nine bedroom suites. It will also include a games room, pool, gym, media room, bar, library, piano room and beauty salon.
Peter Wetherell, managing director of real estate agents Wetherell, says that the vogue for vast super-homes in Mayfair is growing.
Cambridge House on Piccadilly, formerly the Naval and Military Club, is currently being renovated for use as a private home which will have 60,600sq ft. “These houses are virtually palaces,” he said. “This current plan will certainly produce one of the finest houses in Mayfair and I think it is wonderful that people are investing this amount of money in bringing residential life back to Mayfair.”
However Ed Mead, a director of estate agents Douglas and Gordon, holds different view, claiming that owners of super-houses are more interested in showing off their wealth than creating their dream home. “I don’t think people really use them much, it is more about outdoing their mates. It seems like a ‘mine is bigger than yours’ sort of exercise.”
The house will dwarf apartment 1A in Kensington Palace – the future London home of the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge – which is thought to measure a relatively pokey 25,000sq ft.
A spokesman for Mr Caudwell confirmed he bought the “splendid” property in August 2012. “It is understood that the property has stood empty for at least the past 10 years and it is now in need of significant investment, the property has also suffered from unsympathetic alterations over many years,” he said.
“Since purchase Mr Caudwell has committed to invest significantly to bring the property back to its former glory. The new works are intended to reinstate its quality and make it a fitting Mayfair house.”