Formula 1 star Lewis Hamilton has been given permission to cut down a ‘lovely’ sugarplum tree outside his £18 million Kensington property to the displeasure of his neighbors.
Angry neighbors protested the decision of the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea (RBKC) Council, claiming that allowing Hamilton to cut down the tree outside his home would be “killing nature.”
However, Hamilton was able to outsmart their protests by submitting a tree surgeon’s report stating that the tree was essentially dead and dying anyway.
The council was swayed by this report, and he was granted permission to completely cut down the tree and trim back a magnolia bush.
Various planning fights with local homeowners have erupted over the improvements to his opulent £18 million mansion in one of London’s most sought-after conservation districts.
Hamilton is said to have yet to set foot in the home he purchased five years ago while undergoing a major renovation.
According to a council planning report, the major building work includes a rear addition, summer house, and new frontage with a taller security wall and gates to ‘enhance the charm and privacy of the building.’
His garden design team, lead by Florian McLaren of Highland Aboriculture, previously received permission to prune a Horse Chestnut tree by two metres, citing the need to lower shadowing and minimise loading on regrowth points’ on the application form.
A neighbor who backs up to Hamilton’s home expressed support for the application, claiming that the enormous trees sometimes leave ‘pigeon droppings’ all over their yard.
‘As many of the horizontal branches that hang over our property as feasible be cut back,’ they requested, adding that ‘the pigeon droppings in that corner might be a nuisance.’
Hamilton also wants to cut down an Amelanchier tree, popularly known as a shadbush, in a separate proposal to the city council.
His team stated that the tree is ’80 percent dead and in terminal decline,’ and requested that the Magnolia Grandiflora’s crown be cut back by one to two metres.
Although these trees are not protected by a Tree Preservation Order, they are nevertheless located in a conservation area. One neighbor complained in a previous Hamilton planning application that the ‘current owner bought the house for £18 million in 2017 and has never set foot in it.’
Locals were concerned about the trees and the summerhouse being used as a party pad when the race car driver applied to demolish it. Neighbors raised alarm over the property’s alleged ’emptiness,’ and they disagreed that the trees were in ‘poor’ condition.
“It certainly does not need another house at the rear of its garden, which, if the owner ever does move in, will no doubt be used as a ‘party house’ away from the main residence, due to the nature of his lifestyle,” one of Hamilton’s neighbors said.
Another said: “Since the property was bought, the beneficial owner(s) concealed by the corporate envelope never used it.”
“The property has remained empty to this day, and it is very likely that the PP is being sought to (again) ‘dress up’ an investment for capital gain.”
“It is disheartening to see tree consultants describe the quality of the poplars (and certain other trees) as ‘low quality’.”
“These trees have been there for over 100 years and are part of a magnificent landscaping legacy in this precious conservation area of the RBKC.”
“Their possible demise over time as a result of the construction would seriously impair the value of the neighbouring properties.”
A final one wrote: “They are magnificent ‘heritage’ trees, which are easily identified from an airplane upon approach to Heathrow Airport.”
“The report also describes them both as in ‘Poor’ structural condition. I hope that this is also incorrect. In addition, they are considered ‘post-mature’ in age.”
“The combination of these comments makes me concerned that there is a desire to take them down to create more room for the building works.”