Novelist Joanna Trollope is celebrating victory after a campaign to stop five of her neighbours in Chelsea building matching roof extensions at their homes. Kensington & Chelsea council has refused permission for the series of mansard roof extensions on the townhouse-style properties just off King’s Road in SW3.
Three-bedroom homes in the street sell for up to £3.3 million. The project, which would have cost each owner £75,000 to £100,000, would have increased the value of their homes by 10 to 20 per cent by adding one very large bedroom suite or two smaller bedrooms.
Ms Trollope, 73, best-selling author of more than 30 mostly romantic novels, was one of 13 neighbours along the quiet street of terrace houses who objected to the plan. “The addition of an extra storey on the houses across the street will dramatically affect the amount of light falling on mine and my neighbours’ properties,” she wrote to the council in an official objection to the joint planning application. “As the amount and quality of light is one of the chief charms of the street, this is a serious objection.”
Distinguished barrister Sir Geoffrey Nice QC, who worked with the International Criminal Tribunal for former Yugoslavia and was one of the prosecutors at the UN war crimes trial of ex-president Slobodan Milosevic in The Hague, was no more impressed by the plans. He complained that the new floor would block light to his home and would leave him with a view of the back of the enlarged terrace.
“The change would be very substantial and would we think have a significant effect on the freehold value of the properties,” he wrote.
It emerged today that Graham Stallwood, executive director for planning and borough development for Kensington & Chelsea, backed Ms Trollope and Sir Geoffrey. He ruled that the new roofline would detract from the appearance of the conservation area.
“The scale and massing of the mansard extensions is such that the proposal would be overbearing and would result in a materially harmful sense of enclosure and a loss of light to the properties to the front and rear of the site,” he concluded.
He also raised concerns that if the five applicants did not carry out their projects simultaneously, their neighbours could be in for years of building works for the foreseeable future.
Raja Masilamani, the architect hired by the five neighbours to draw up designs for the project, said he was extremely surprised and disappointed by the decision after what he felt were very positive pre-application meetings with council officers.
He said the majority of his clients – one British, one American, one Russian, one Italian, and one South African – were long-time residents who simply needed more space. “They have spent a lot of money and a lot of time and effort on this, and the worst thing is the emotional upset for them,” he said.