Plans by Qatar’s Royal family to create a £200million mega-mansion have been dealt a blow after it was recommended for refusal by Westminster Council
An application by architects and designers March + White to combine two mansions overlooking Regent’s Park has been withdrawn after a planning officer said the application for a 3,065m² home should be turned down due to a loss of homes in the borough.
The 17-bedroom mega-mansion would have joined together the grade I-listed houses at 1, 2 and 3 Cornwall Terrace which were built between 1820 and 1822 as part of John Nash’s masterplan for Regent’s Park. Number 2 and 3 Cornwall Terrace has already been knocked through into a single office in the 1970s.
The authority’s officers recommended refusal despite an offer from the applicant to pay a voluntary £850,000 to Westminster’s affordable homes fund as a goodwill gesture if the plans were approved.
In the Sub Committee Report for Westminster Council, planning officer Matthew Rees concluded that: ‘In summary, the proposed development is considered to be unacceptable on the basis that it would result in the overall loss of a family-sized units of residential accommodation in the borough, contrary to S14 of the City Plan. Therefore, it is recommended that the planning application be refused.’
The report states that Westminster did not currently have a way of accepting cash contributions towards the authority’s affordable housing fund.
It reads: ‘The current adopted policy S14 does not include a mechanism to allow a contribution towards the council’s affordable housing fund to address the unit being lost. The applicant’s offer of £750,000 to a Registered Provider would not result in any net increase in the number of affordable units.
‘The provision of £850,000 into a central pool of funding may contribute positively towards affordable housing provision in the city but this would not compensate for the loss of a family-sized home’.
According to press reports, March + White drew up the plans on behalf of Sheikha Mozah bint Nasser Al-Missned, who is one of three wives of the former Qatari emir Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa Al-Thani.
Qatar’s ruling Al-Thani family have bought up a large slice of London’s property in recent years including the Shard, Harrods, Chelsea Barracks, the U.S. Embassy in Grosvenor Square, a 20 per cent share in Camden Market and half of Candy & Candy’s One Hyde Park.
The two homes were bought for £120million last year and their conversion into new palatial residence would include a spa, heated pool, salon, children’s play area, a massage parlour and ‘wine cave’. The lower-ground floor would be excavated to include extra entertainment facilities.
Under plans submitted to the council, the new super-mansion included ‘Formal’ and ‘Informal’ zones for receiving guests and relaxing as well as separate entrances for staff, guests and family members.
The ‘Formal’ area would include the visitor waiting room, library and cigar room and salon and would be decorated with regency reproduction fittings the ‘Informal’ zones would have included the swimming pool, juice bar, gym, entertainment area, massage rooms two lifts and a number of games rooms.
Overnight guests would be welcomed to their quarters through a private lobby and dressing area in the guest wing as well as private en-suite bathrooms. Staff would serve guests their meals via a concealed door in the formal dining room, which included decorative plaster moldings and fabric panels.
The previous timber floors would have been removed and replaced with herringbone oak floor with inset rugs, and stone walls replaced with White Carrara Marble. Many of the existing windows would be retained but ‘complimented’ with new ironmongery.
The basement level included accommodation for eleven staff with their own lobby, sitting room and security office.
The master bedroom on the second floor boasted sheikh and shiekha’s dressing rooms at either side of the master bed and mini-bar.
Children would have enjoyed their own floor in the proposed mansion which included a children’s lounge, games room, four children’s bedrooms in addition to a guest room, a pantry and a twin suite for the family nanny. Boys have their own smaller ‘majlis’ to entertain their own guests.
Earlier this year Westminster Council hit out against plans to link the former Brazilian Embassy in Mayfair with another property to create a £100 million ‘super mansion’.
The council’s planning subcommittee report slammed plans drawn up by Wolff Architects to combine the two Grade II-listed properties and create a mansion which is over 50 times the size of an average one-bedroom flat. The entire property would have an internal area of approximately 28,000 sq ft, which is the equivalent of 57 average-sized one-bedroom flats.