Westminster tries to block the mega mansions

Could the vogue for super-houses in central London have gone too far? Westminster council thinks so, and is against the creation of a 27,000sq ft home in Mayfair on the site of the former Brazilian embassy.

The super-house would link two five-storey, Grade II-listed townhouses in Green Street and Dunraven Street, close to Hyde Park, with a vast basement extension.
 
The plans include a spa with a basement pool and his and hers beauty salons, plus a cigar room and formal and informal “majlis” — meeting or entertaining rooms in Arabic. The scheme would create one of the largest private homes in central London. However, Westminster planners object to the sheer scale of the property.
 
The council is under pressure to create 770 new homes in the borough each year under a quota system set up by Mayor Boris Johnson, and says, therefore, that there should be more than one home on the site.

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The proposed super home would take up the space of well over 50 individual homes

Since an average one-bedroom flat measures 495sq ft, according to the Royal Institute of British Architects, this single property would take up the same space as well over 50 individual homes.
 
“While there is no in-principle objection to the conversion of the two buildings to residential floor space, the provision of a single extremely large dwelling house fails to optimise the number of residential units that could be delivered,” says Rosemarie MacQueen, the council’s strategic director for the built environment, in a report.
 
Neighbours also object to the super-house. “No single family home needs to be of this size and no family could possibly utilise such a space,” says one.
 
A report by Wolff Architects, which drew up the plans, points out that the buildings would be sympathetically restored, with modern “detrimental extensions and alterations” removed. “The layouts have been designed to be sympathetic to the original property, whilst bring it up to date with the requirements of a modern home owner,” reads the report.
 
The two houses were sold last year by the Brazilian government for a reported £40 million. Once amalgamated, renovated and expanded, the resulting home could be worth up to £100 million.
 
The properties were sold by estate agent Peter Wetherell, managing director of Mayfair-based agency Wetherell. He defends the owners’ “admirable” decision to spend an estimated £20 million on renovation work. “The house does not really lend itself to conversion to multiple units, which would seriously compromise its architectural character,” he says.
 
However, Anthony Lorenz, chairman of the Residents Society of Mayfair and St James’s, says members fully support the council’s stance, and adds: “I do not see why anybody needs a house of this size.”
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