Robbie Williams faces new setback in plans to build an underground leisure complex at his west London home

Jimmy Page has lived in his Grade I-listed property (left) since 1972. He has been embroiled in a long-running planning battle with Robbie William (pictured right, with his wife, Ayda Field)  (Getty/ Rex/ Benett)
Jimmy Page has lived in his Grade I-listed property (left) since 1972. He has been embroiled in a long-running planning battle with Robbie William (pictured right, with his wife, Ayda Field) (Getty/ Rex/ Benett)

Robbie Williams’ long-contested plans to create an underground swimming pool and gym at his west London house have been put on hold again due to a problem with his planning application.

The Angels singer bought his Grade II-listed home in Holland Park, near Kensington High Street, for £17.5 million in 2014, intending to make some changes to the historic building. Yet Williams’ plans for his Queen Anne style home have been the centre of a long-running planning row with his neighbour, Led Zeppelin guitarist Jimmy Page, who has lived in the Grade I-listed property next door since 1972.

In 2015, Williams submitted his first planning application to Kensington and Chelsea council for an underground basement below the back garden, which was intended to house a swimming pool and spa facilities, and would be connected to the house by a tunnel. He withdrew the application later six weeks later, after pushback from Page.

In 2018, after difficulty negotiating several other modifications to his property —including a summer house, new skylight and the felling of a Lombardy poplar tree— Williams revisited his plans for a super basement and submitted a new planning application.

Page publicly objected to the construction on the grounds that the vibration and ground movement would cause “catastrophic” damage his own house, while the proposed works would encroach on the boundary wall between the two musicians’ properties.

“The Tower House was built in the 1870s by the eminent Victorian architect, William Burges, for his own use…[It] is listed Grade I and is thus one of the most important historic buildings in the borough,” wrote Page in objection to the proposal at the time.

“The consequences for the building fabric and decorative finishes of the Tower House may well be catastrophic if this project is allowed to proceed.

“Having protected Tower House for over forty years, I am now continuing the fight against a new threat to this precious and unique building.”

Other residents expressed concerns about noise and disturbance from the building work, while the council also received notes from local residents Charles Booth-Clibborn, founder of art publishers Paragon Press, and Odran Jennings, one-time member of 1990s alt-rockers Out of My Hair.

Jennings even took it upon himself to hand-deliver a selection of architectural books, including a volume on Burges, to Williams’ house.

Still, in October 2019, Williams was finally granted permission to build his leisure complex, on the condition that significant measures be taken to prevent vibration and noise – including the use of anti-vibration mounts and the requirement that only hand tools weighing no more than nine kilos should be used for the work.

And so, in September last year, Williams’ work finally began – until January 13, when construction ground to a halt once more.

Williams has been instructed that he must apply for the deeds of his property to be legally changed for the building work to go ahead. This, however, has reopened the planning application, with notices erected on trees in the area inviting residents to comment.

Public consultation was open until February 10 and Williams is expected to have a decision this month. But in the interim, his builders have had to put down their (hand) tools.

It is not Williams’ only setback since building work began. He was forced to withdraw his application to install a wooden trellis around his garden for privacy in January – a plan that drew a snarky response from a member of the public (clearly not a fan).

They wrote: “An Englishman’s home is his castle and he should be afforded his right. The general public would perhaps benefit from the fence being higher and being constructed to a sound-proofed standard.”

Williams sold three of his properties in 2021, including his “haunted” seven-bedroom Wiltshire estate for £6.75 million; Swiss estate for £24 million and Beverley Hills mansion, which Drake bought for £38.2 million. He opted to replace them with a $49.5 million mansion in Holmby Hills, California.