Hedge fund tycoons at war over plans for basement dig at £30m villa

Two of London’s wealthiest hedge fund bosses are locked in a legal battle over plans for a huge basement under a £30 million Holland Park home.

Richard Deitz, president of Moscow-based VR Capital, wants to dig out a 3,500 sq ft extension including swimming pool, changing room, gym, sauna and steam room under the garden of his Grade II listed villa.

However, his neighbour, Tim Tacchi, founder of hedge fund TT International, and his wife Betina, have hired two top law firms to oppose the “totally unacceptable” scheme — even taking the dispute as far as the High Court.

The application was given planning consent by Kensington & Chelsea council in October but the Tacchis had it quashed by the court in January when their lawyers successfully argued that not enough weight had been given to the risk of “harm to a heritage asset”.

A second application is due to go before the council’s planning committee on Tuesday with a recommendation from officers for approval, despite continued opposition from the Tacchis. 

Mr Deitz’s wife Marina Nacheva, who also works for VR Capital, said: “The situation is obviously regrettable but we have been trying to find middle-ground.

“Mr Tacchi unfortunately has unrealistic expectations in terms of what we should do about protecting his property.

“We are never going to be the best of friends but it’s not all-out war, and we are not shouting at each other. That we ended up in the High Court is disappointing.

“I come from Bulgaria and grew up in a village where your neighbours are the most important people in your life. My understanding of neighbours from there is totally different to my experience of them in London.” 

Mr and Mrs Deitz bought the former residence of the Greek Consul General from the Greek government for £23 million at the height of the country’s debt crisis in 2013.

The Yale-educated banker wants to restore the “wedding cake” five-storey villa — close to David and Victoria Beckham’s £31.5 million London base — as a family home to share with his wife and three children.

Oxford-educated Mr Tacchi employed lawyers from two City law firms — Norton Rose Fulbright and Watson Farley Williams — to fight the plans.

In letters submitted to the planning committee, his legal team states: “The proposed basement construction will lead to substantial ground movements, causing damage to neighbouring properties. 

Neighbour Tim Tacchi opposes their plans

“Our own assessments indicate that the movements generated will cause cracking of up to 5 mm in Mr and Mrs Tacchi’s home in Holland Park. 

“The same damage can be anticipated to the Greek Embassy on the opposite side. Smaller cracks would be anticipated in the next adjoining properties adjacent.

“Such a level of damage to a listed building is totally unacceptable, as are the potential financial implications for our clients and the Greek Embassy.”

In another letter they wrote that “our view is that there are sufficient reasons on heritage grounds alone for the council to refuse this application”.

John Cowdry, chairman of the Holland Park Residents Association, said: “Sadly these disputes involving basements are becoming more and more common. I hope they do not end up in the High Court again.”

Source : https://www.standard.co.uk/news/london/hedge-fund-tycoons-at-war-over-plans-for-basement-dig-at-30m-villa-a3195516.html