Part III: No Harmony In Kensington
If there was ever a notable legal case regarding neighbours and a home expansion scheme it would have to be the home re-development situation between legendary Led Zeppelin guitarist Jimmy Page and Take That singer Robbie Williams. The dispute brought out all matter of accusations between the two neighbours whilst the battle in court moved along.
The property at the centre of this squabble is the 46-room mansion home in Kensington of the late film director Michael Winner which Williams purchased for £17 million in December 2013. Over the past three years renovation of the property has been ongoing while complaints from neighbours and clashes with planning authorities over the buildings new construction raised tensions.
The dispute with Jimmy Page began when the Led Zeppelin legend objected to Williams’s house plans that Page argued could threaten his Grade-I listed Tower Home. The Williams had returned to London after living in Los Angeles to have their children enrolled in proper English schools.
On two separate occasions Mr. Williams had to drop proposals on his home renovation but finally was granted permission in July 2015. It is thought that the work that has been accomplished on the five floor property includes a new lower ground floor with a gym, pool and home theatre. A large garage on the property was also pulled down.
Local council planners in July 2016 gave the builders on the Williams property a specific time of day for what was referred to as ‘noisy work’ from 8am to 6:30pm Monday through Friday and 12.5 hours for Saturday construction.
On two occasions Page voiced complaints about the scale and size of the construction saying the architectural application was ‘unfortunate’ and he stated his fears that his home built in 1781 could be damaged.
One complaint was from Geraldine, the widow of Mr. Winner, after Williams cut down eight palm trees that had been planted and loved by the former owner. This was a result of new plans for the garden area requiring tree removals to install limestone pavers, a terrace deck and a £5,000 Bar-B-Que.
Mrs Winner, 77, said about the trees: 'Michael planted them when they were just a foot high. He loved his garden, and did a lot of work in it.’ But Williams’ plans to create a ‘British woodland’ setting made the trees obsolete and he applied for permission to have them removed.
On the renovation of the mansion and complaints by Jimmy Page Williams said:
'We bought this house and it was dilapidated, you know. It needed fresh energy, new love. It just needed a lick of paint and, you know, new stuff to be added, and our next door neighbour sort of decided to concentrate all of his energy on trying to block everything.’
There was a small victory for Jimmy Page when he won a complaint regarding the noise as a court ordered £4,760 to award Page as compensation from CC Construction Ltd. for noise violations on the Williams property.
There is irony of Page complaining about noise as Led Zeppelin, always known for its loud concerts, is reported to have played their song ‘Heartbreaker’ in 1969 with the same decibel level, 130db, as that of a fighter jet taking off from a Navy aircraft carrier.
As construction progressed on what Page described as a ‘catastrophic’ building work plan and complained about the noise. An interview on an Italian radio, Radio Deejay, Williams commented on his dispute with Page even suggesting his neighbour had a mental illness.
He is quoted as saying:
'Jimmy has been sitting in his car outside our house, four hours at a time. He's recording the workmen to see if they're making too much noise.’
'The builders came in and he was asleep in his garden waiting. It's like a mental illness.’
The comments wound up being posted online by Radio Deejay and then deleted, but not before being shared on sites online.
As for their future as neighbours Williams said:
'I think Jimmy is bored. I'm next door now, I've got a studio in my house. We could write songs together'.