London: Part Two-The Battle of Knightsbridge
In the first part of this series we saw the result of neighbours who challenge local councils when it involves planning permission for enlarging their homes. This next case reviews the current legal dispute between neighbours over their renovation plans for a basement cinema.
Two multi-millionaire neighbours have been in and out of court for five years over plans for a basement and home theatre beneath one of their Knightsbridge homes.
Nick Hill, 56, blames property developer Russell Gray, 60, for having repeatedly ‘thwarted’ his under house excavation plans for his £4 million Knightsbridge home after announcing the plans in 2012. The large scale basement was planned to be built as quickly as possible and he sued Mr. Gray for £200,000 for having delayed the project. Mr. Gray accused Hill of being “entirely selfish” because of the risk to the building for the excavation.
Mr. Gray denied owing his neighbour any money and said the his neighbours plan were ‘unbuildable’ and further accused Mr. Hill of trespass as the building work had extended onto his property.
Gray, an insolvency practitioner, represented himself when he appeared in Central London County Court and put the blame of the ‘five year scrap’ on his neighbour. Speaking to Judge Edward Bailey Mr. Gray stated:
“I submit that this dispute as a whole is quite unnecessary and is a product of Mr Hill’s character, Mr Hill alleges routinely that I am dishonest and impossible to deal with.’ ‘
“The reality is, however, that he refuses to talk to me and always has done.”
“If he had been willing to enter into a dialogue with me, we might have been able to avoid five years of wasted time and costs.”
'Mr Hill alleges routinely that I am dishonest and impossible to deal with. The reality is, however, that he refuses to talk to me and always has done.’
Testimony in the court proceedings stated that the development in Mr. Gray's mews home basement actually began in 2001. But the row between the two neighbours did not begin until Mr. Hill with his company Elite Town Management Ltd. applied for planning permission for enlarging his basement.
Mr Hill’s plans involved ‘underpinning’ or a solid foundation laid below ground level to support or strengthen the building the party wall between the two houses.
In addition Mr. Gray stated that Mr Hill's contractors had gone deeper than is allowed when excavating the basement, requiring that a new party wall award needed to be made.
Mr. Hill eventually did win his legal claim over the party wall, but added that he suffered eight months of delays in 2014 and 2015 because of Mr. Gray’s appeals against the
Apparently, Mr Hill spends three months of the year in the residence with his wife and spends the remaining months in Hong Kong and on other travels.
The hearing continues.