Ecclestone's 'Botox' design gets under the skin of neighbours

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The Independent Online

Bernie Ecclestone's youngest daughter has dropped plans to demolish a 200-year-old lodge after outraged neighbours accused her of being responsible for "Botox" architecture.

Petra Ecclestone, 22, had intended to knock down and rebuild the Georgian lodge as part of her blueprint for redesigning her recently purchased £56m Grade II-listed Chelsea home, Sloane House. Planning permission for a swimming pool and gym within the home, which would require substantial excavation work, was granted in 2009.

The work would also allow for underground car parking and a games and media room and is projected to have cost about £15m. Some of the residents in the area, however, were against the demolition of the lodge.

The Chelsea Society, an organisation created in 1927 to protect the "historical fabric" of the area, described it as "extensive and unwarranted".

The Society was equally incensed by the intended design of the rebuilt lodge, which members dismissed as "an ultra-modern interior behind façades of bland 'Botox' neo-Georgian architecture".

Plans to knock down the lodge have now been withdrawn. The planning consultants working for Ms Ecclestone are in contact with the local authority to explore the limits of what can now be done.

Under the original planning permission, which was granted before Ms Ecclestone took possession of the property, the lodge was to be partially demolished to provide construction trucks and other heavy equipment access to the main building. Ms Ecclestone was given the property by her mother, Slavica Ecclestone, who bought it last year, and hopes to move in with her fiancé, James Stunt. They are to be married in August.

Sloane House, a six-bedroom property, has the neighbouring Sloane Lodge within its grounds and together they were put on the market for £79m, somewhat higher than the eventual sale price. Both buildings are thought to have been constructed between 1793 and 1805.

David Campion, a councillor in Kensington and Chelsea, said underground developments were a contentious issue in the area because of the level of disturbance to neighbours. "We are trying to get the law changed," he said. "We want to get more control over subterranean developments. They are causing a lot of aggravation through the disturbance they cause.

"Subterranean developments are a red-hot potato in Chelsea. It's an urban phenomenon," he said.

He added that creating underground extensions to properties was a way of increasing their value, especially in areas where building upwards or outwards would not be allowed.