By using this service and related content, you agree to the use of cookies for analytics, personalised content and ads.
You are using an older browser version. Please use a supported version for the best MSN experience.

Top Stories

Author in row over neighbours' plan for massive wine cellar beneath Notting Hill home

Evening Standard logo Evening Standard 21/04/2017 Matt Watts, Safeeyah Kazi
© Provided by Independent Print Limited

The writer of Wild Swans has warned that her neighbours’ “purely selfish” plans to build a huge wine cellar under their Notting Hill home jeopardise her next book.

Jung Chang, whose 1991 epic about her family’s lives in pre- and post-revolutionary China has sold 20 million copies, said “the desire to store large amounts of alcohol” could not justify “prolonging the misery of others”.

The writer, 65, is one of several residents in the street to object to their neighbours’ plan to install the 2.8-metre-deep “spiral” wine store, which would be able to hold more than 1,000 bottles.

The application has been made by Chadi Semaan, who works for Commerzbank, and his wife Amélie, an executive director at JP Morgan.

The couple were given planning consent for front and rear mega-basement extensions to their £6 million, four-storey terraced house, despite neighbours’ objections, in 2014.

stairs.jpg © Provided by Independent Print Limited stairs.jpg

Ms Chang, who is working on a book about the “father” of modern China, Sun Yat-sen, told the Standard: “This new application to dig a wine cellar presents a new and further threat to the stability of our house.

"It only adds to the concern we already have about the basement dig.

“My husband and I are both writers working from home, where we have all our research and reference books. We can’t work anywhere else.

"The disruption from the noise and the vibration will be intolerable, and will really jeopardise our hopes of delivering our next books on time.”

Ms Chang, the first person from the People’s Republic to be awarded a PhD in Britain, is married to the historian Jon Halliday, a former visiting research fellow at King’s College.

The couple, who have lived in the house since 1992, published their book Mao: The Unknown Story, in 2005. Mr Halliday said the need for a wine cellar to “hold enough wine to get the whole street drunk many times over” was, with the basement dig, disproportionate to the effect it would have on his home.

In the application to Kensington & Chelsea council, installers Spiral Cellars said the cellar would not affect the planned or existing foundations.

It states: “The level of excavation involved in the construction of the store is not significant and will be carried out in conjunction with the main front and rear basement extensions.”

Its managing director Lucy Hargreaves said it ensures its cellars “won’t impact on the property’s foundations or those of neighbouring properties”.

Planning officers have recommended that the cellar, said to cost £30,000, be approved next week. They said it is not a basement development and should not be considered under the same council policy.

The Semaans were unavailable to comment.


More from Evening Standard

image beaconimage beaconimage beacon