Robert Louis Stevenson"s lawn: Anger at plans to build spa under historic garden


Neighbours steamed up over spa under Robert Louis Stevenson's lawn: Anger at plans to build pool under historic garden
Debbie Dove is at loggerheads with her neighbours over the plansShe wants to build an underground spa under the famous garden
But locals say the development is not in keeping with the local areaDove, who owns millions of pounds of property, says she is being harassed

By
Lucy Osborne

PUBLISHED:

23:45 GMT, 25 February 2013

|

UPDATED:

00:55 GMT, 26 February 2013

Robert Louis Stevenson may well have paced up and down the garden, pondering the next twist to one of his adventure novels.

And, nearly a century later, stars of the 1960s such as Elizabeth Taylor and Peter Sellers enjoyed summer parties on the same lawn.

But the next chapter in the history of this London garden and the attached Grade II-listed cottage is rather less illustrious.

Debbie Dove says she has been harassed by neighbours over her plans to build an underground spa at her Hampstead home, pictured,

Debbie Dove says she has been harassed by neighbours over her plans to build an underground spa at her Hampstead home, pictured, which used to belong to Robert Louis Stevenson

The current owner wants to dig it up and build a basement health spa for the use of her teenage daughters. It’s not a popular step with her neighbours in upmarket Hampstead.

Multi-millionaire Debbie Dove, who reportedly has an 80million property portfolio, has submitted plans for a leisure complex with a swimming pool, waterfall feature, spa, gym and bar.

This will require digging more than six metres under the garden of Treasure Island author Stevenson’s former home – where 50 years ago some of the biggest names in British film gathered for parties.

Neighbours say the proposal is not in keeping with the area but twice-divorced Miss Dove, 52, who has another property backing on to the cottage, claims they have been harassing her and she is now considering legal action.

‘I have been texted and emailed constantly,’ she said. ‘They have said that, for my own benefit, it would be better to drop my planning application.

‘We are literally going to have to go for harassment soon. All the neighbours in the nearby area have rallied against me.’

The three-bedroomed Netley Cottage, built in 1779, is close to the Hampstead Garden Suburb, known as Billionaires’ Row, and is a popular area with rich and famous.

Neighbours are opposing the development at the Hampstead cottage, which has its own terrace and lawn, because they say it is not in keeping with the area

Neighbours are opposing the development at the Hampstead cottage, which has its own terrace and lawn, because they say it is not in keeping with the area

Treasure Island author Robert Louis Stevenson once owned the Hampstead cottage

Treasure Island author Robert Louis Stevenson once owned the Hampstead cottage

Coldplay singer Chris Martin and his wife, actress Gwyneth Paltrow, as well as actress Kate Hudson and comedian Michael McIntyre all reportedly live nearby.

After putting the property on the market in 2010, Miss Dove decided to keep it so 14-year-old twin daughters, Viviana and Isabella can live there when they are older.

If the proposals win Camden Council’s approval, the underground spa would be covered by a turfed roof, which architects say will be in keeping with the rest of the large property.

Miss Dove separated from second husband, divorce lawyer Raymond ‘Jaws’ Tooth in 2008. His clients include Sadie Frost and Patti Boyd.

In the early Nineties, Miss Dove married first husband, Italian aristocrat Giovanni Fiorentino, father of her twins. The marriage lasted 11 years.

Miss Dove, a former local estate agent, said: ‘I wouldn’t dream of doing anything that would visually change the building inside or out. I doubt if I would be allowed to anyway. This development is totally hidden. It is under the lawn.’

Judd Architecture, the company that has drawn up the plans submitted to Camden planning officials, said: ‘The proposal… will have no impact at all on the listed building and minimal impact on the appearance of the garden.’