Neighbourly Feud: Millionaires Clash Over £2 Million Legal Bill After Blocking Modern Development

Neighbourly Feud: Millionaires Clash Over £2 Million Legal Bill After Blocking Modern Development


What began as a fierce battle to halt an ultra-modern development next to their Victorian villa has now escalated into a legal clash among millionaire neighbours.

The residents of 89 Holland Park in west London, victorious in their fight against architect Sophie Hicks, are now entangled in a dispute over a staggering £2 million legal bill.

Architectural Battle:

In 2013, celebrity architect Sophie Hicks unveiled plans for a cutting-edge underground house with an illuminated glass entrance next to the converted Victorian villa.

This sparked an eight-year-long conflict, culminating in a 2021 victory for the residents, who objected to the design.

The £2.7 Million Legal Bill:

Following their triumph, the residents were confronted with a significant financial burden—a £2.7 million legal bill.

This hefty sum was distributed among apartment owners, translating to a daunting £430,000 charge for each individual.

Clash Among Neighbours:

The conflict took a new turn when investment banker Andrew Dell, 60, and his wife Jennifer, 59, refused to pay the imposed fee.

Their contention rested on the claim that they withdrew support for the legal battle in 2014. Now, the couple is actively challenging the bill at the Court of Appeal.

Architect Sophie Hicks:

Sophie Hicks, a renowned architect and mother to model daughters Edie and Olympia Campbell, had obtained planning approval for her subterranean house in 2015.

The clash with her neighbours spanned planning disputes and court cases, with covenants giving the company power to veto building on the adjoining land.

Legal Victory and Financial Burden:

While the residents secured victory in 2021, with a judge ruling against Hicks’ design, they faced the unexpected burden of over £2 million in legal costs

Despite the victory, Hicks was only ordered to pay a fraction of the bill, leaving the company, 89 Holland Park (Management) Ltd, to distribute the remaining costs.

Appealing the Service Charge:

The company, representing the flat owners, is now appealing a tribunal decision that Andrew and Jennifer Dell are not contractually liable to pay the service charge.

The company contends that the costs incurred in protecting the building structure and amenity are recoverable through the service charge, irrespective of the size of the bill.

Arguments in Court:

The ongoing legal battle hinges on whether the Dells can be compelled to pay the record-breaking service charge.

The company argues that the Upper Tribunal judge erred in considering the quantum of costs, emphasizing the recoverability of expenses incurred in protecting the building.

Reserved Decision:

Following a recent day-long hearing at the Court of Appeal, judges Lord Justice Arnold, Lord Justice Phillips, and Lady Justice Falk have reserved their decision on the case. The outcome will determine the resolution of this intricate legal saga among millionaire neighbours.

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