Ivy owner Richard Caring defies order to remove £40m home’s incongruous windows

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Richard Caring, the billionaire nightclub and restaurant entrepreneur, is refusing to remove three “incongruous and dominant” windows from his £40m house in South Kensington despite the council issuing an “enforcement notice” ordering him to do so.

Caring, 74, who owns the celebrity hotspot restaurants the Ivy and Sexy Fish as well as the private members’ club Annabel’s, has launched an appeal against the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea’s ruling that the windows were installed “without planning permission” and “fail to preserve the character and appearance” of the conservation area.

The appeal to the Planning Inspectorate, seen by the Guardian, comes after Caring angered his neighbours by closing a main road for two weeks in order to have dozens of trees planted in the grounds of his mansion.

It is the latest chapter in a five-year battle between Caring and his wife and many of the 500 or so people who live in properties adjacent to the property, Park House.

A view of Richard Caring's house from a neighboring building
Renovation work on the rear of Richard Caring’s home in South Kensington. Photograph: Antonio Olmos/The Observer

Designs for the 13,400 sq ft house, which replaces a 19th-century cottage previously owned by the German industrialist heir Gert-Rudolf Flick, feature a large two-storey basement. The basement alone contains a swimming pool that can be converted into a ballroom, a beauty treatment room, a steam room and a store for summer clothes, according to plans filed with the council.

The couple are expected to move into the house on Monday.

In the appeal, Caring’s wife, Patricia, who is more than 30 years his junior and pregnant with his sixth child, said the windows were “well designed, being appropriately proportioned and detailed to accord with the general Victorian character of the wider conservation area”.

She also complained that the six-month period the council gave for the windows to be removed “falls short of what is reasonable”.

The Planning Inspectorate said it expected written submissions from both parties by 7 September, and an inspector would be sent to investigate the site and make a ruling. If the council loses the appeal it may have to pay Caring’s costs.

The council declined to comment on the appeal, but a spokesperson said: “Planning regulations exist to protect neighbourhoods. We take breaches very seriously and work with landowners to investigate and fix issues quickly.

Richard Caring, pictured with his wife Patricia,
Richard Caring, pictured with his wife Patricia, owns the celebrity hotspot restaurants the Ivy and Sexy Fish as well as the private members’ club Annabel’s. Photograph: David M Benett/Dave Benett/Getty Images for EJAF/The Caring Family Foundation

“We have issued an enforcement notice in this case and this allows six months from the date of issue for the developer to amend their property to comply with the planning consent.”

David Erb, who lives on Onslow Square in a property overlooking Caring’s mansion, said: “I find it inconceivable that after the applicant deliberately misled the council and built massive dormers completely at odds with the plans submitted to RBKC, and after retrospective permission for these enormous dormers was denied, that there is any justification for overturning the carefully considered planning decision denying the dormers.”

“The project has substantially exceeded the building mass limits set at the outset, even without the dormers, and these huge dormers only compound that. After more than four years of enduring extraordinarily noisy construction, I’m reluctant to advocate yet more work, but the dormers are a big part of what makes the replacement of the formerly lovely Park House an eyesore.”

Caring is a donor to the Conservative party, with records at the Electoral Commission’s website showing he has given at least £735,000 to the party since 2010. The Conservatives control RBKC council with 35 of the 50 seats.


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Rupert Neate

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