Led Zepp in death match with insane neighbor!
Where does this prick get off trying to build something next to Rock and Roll Royalty! Have some respect dude!
Actually, I'm amazed Jimmy can hear anything after years of playing at volumes that would peel the paint off the walls.
Led Zeppelin’s Jimmy Page Battles Neighbor Robbie Williams Over a Basement Man Cave
A rock guitarist’s aversion to noise fuels a never-ending struggle at the local planning committee between two celebrity owners of London mansions.
Led Zeppelin guitarist Jimmy Page at a planning meeting in Kensington and Chelsea Town Hall in May 2018.
By Max Colchester, WSJ
March 9, 2023 10:00 am ET
LONDON—Jimmy Page shot to fame in the 1960s playing earsplitting concerts as the lead guitarist in the band Led Zeppelin.
But in the past decade, the ponytailed 79-year-old Brit has pined for the quiet life. Mr. Page has said he doesn’t hold raucous house parties at his 19th-century manor the Tower House in west London. Instead, he has thrown himself into restoring the frescos and stained-glass windows that adorn the interior of the historic building.
This serene existence was shaken when a new neighbor arrived 10 years ago, triggering a planning war between British rock royalty that continues to reverberate today.
Robbie Williams, a pop star and former member of the boy band Take That, bought the mansion next door to Mr. Page in 2013 and applied for permission to install an underground man cave replete with a swimming pool and gym.
Appalled by the prospect of noisy diggers shuddering the ornate tiles and painted ceilings in his turreted Victorian period home, Mr. Page contested the plans, triggering a feud that has spanned years, captivating locals in leafy Holland Park and the British tabloid press, which has chronicled in detail the numerous planning submissions the two sides have made.
In 2018, the local council planning committee settled on a compromise: Mr. Williams could dig his basement but only using hand tools, and he would have to pay for a “vibration monitoring strategy” that included sensors on Mr. Page’s property. In January, Mr. Williams’s lawyers appealed the restrictions. Their filing said construction had been paused but didn’t say why. A representative for Mr. Williams didn’t return requests for comment.
The Tower House, whose owner, Jimmy Page, has resisted plans by neighbor Robbie Williams to build a basement with a swimming pool because of the construction noise and vibrations.
Across Britain, building a new home or modifying an existing one usually requires approval from town planners, who can place strict guidelines and seek input from the neighbors. Numerous celebrities have found plans for dream homes kiboshed by arcane rules.
British singer Cliff Richard was once ordered to pull down a conservatory in his Surrey home after it was deemed to fall foul of local planning rules. Singer-songwriter Ed Sheeran has spent years in planning disputes over a sprawling complex he is renovating in Suffolk. He ended up simply buying his neighbors’ houses. Despite a public complaint, the council signed off his plan to build a crypt under his property.
“There are no special favors for royalty, rock royalty or media royalty," said Will Minting, a professional consultant in neighbor disputes who has advised numerous stars, including Mr. Page. This one is a celebrity clash for the ages, he said.
Mr. Williams accused Mr. Page of camping outside his house with noise-monitoring equipment and in one interview called him mentally ill. (He later apologized.) The 49-year-old pop star hung a poster in one of his other properties featuring an image of himself standing next to Mr. Page with the tagline “Let Me Excavate You,” a play on Mr. Williams’s hit “Let Me Entertain You.” The poster became public knowledge when it appeared on a sales brochure for the property, which Mr. Williams was selling.
Mr. Page responded by hiring a crisis communications agency and a bevy of architectural advisers and repeatedly petitioning the planning committee at the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea, the London district where the homes are situated.
“I am sorry to sound like a cracked record,” the “Stairway to Heaven” guitar legend at one point wrote to planning officials as he again urged them to stymie the basement construction plans.
He has also spoken out about his efforts to painstakingly conserve Tower House’s unique interior, created by the Victorian architect William Burges in the 1870s and a showcase of the gothic revival style. The house, which Mr. Page bought in 1972, outbidding fellow musician David Bowie, includes a sculptured mantelpiece symbolizing the Tower of Babel.
Mr. Page, who is a fan of Pre-Raphaelite art, has said he only strums an acoustic guitar when he’s at the home to avoid excess noise.
His fans have watched the saga with bemusement. “For the past five years, his main project has been protecting this house. This is now his full-time job,” said James Cook, who writes the online fanzine Led Zeppelin News. “I set up this website to write about music, and I basically ended up becoming an expert in Kensington and Chelsea’s planning portal.”
In 2013, Mr. Williams, who tried to break into the U.S. market in 1999 with the compilation album “The Ego Has Landed,” bought the next door Woodland House from British film director Michael Winner. He soon sought to revamp and expand the £17.5 million property. There were restrictions on adding stories. He decided to build down instead.
Mr. Williams saw his grand designs repeatedly knocked back. A plan for a summer house in the garden faced complaints by other neighbors that it might be “visually intrusive.” He eventually got planning permission but on condition he provided the council with a sample of the wood for the house. Builders he hired to remove a shed were fined £3,000 for breaking sound limits by using loud tools to pull it down it down on a Sunday.
“I think Jimmy is bored. I’m next door now, I’ve got a studio in my house. We could write songs together,” Mr. Williams said on an Italian radio show in 2016. Thinking he was off-air, Mr. Williams then went further: “He’s recording the workmen to see if they’re making too much noise. And also two weeks ago, the builders came in and he was asleep in his garden, waiting. Honestly, it’s like a mental illness.” Mr. Williams subsequently said he was sorry for the comments.
Mr. Williams’s architectural advisers told the council that since Tower House had survived vibrations from the bombing of London in World War II, it could survive construction of a basement next door. Mr. Page called the comments “tasteless.”
Mr. Page wrote to the council’s planning committee saying he had a duty of care to a building once owned by the poet laureate John Betjeman. The council suggested he might find a way to muffle the vibrations caused by the construction.
“This would entail me living in my home for a year or more surrounded by structural props and padding!” Mr. Page wrote back.
Things further spun out of control with an anonymous complaint alleging that Mr. Williams blared music from Led Zeppelin rival band Black Sabbath to upset Mr. Page and dressed up to imitate Led Zeppelin frontman Robert Plant by wearing a wig and stuffing a pillow down his shirt.
“I thought that story was hilarious, so I didn’t mind that being out there at all,” Mr. Williams later told a radio interviewer. “Alas, it is not true.”
In late 2018, Mr. Williams finally got provisional planning permission for his underground structure. But to dig, the workers could only use “non percussive” tools weighing less than 20 pounds.
Also, Mr. Williams’s air-conditioning units must sit on “anti-vibration mounts” and be no louder than a whisper. If neighbors could smell chlorine coming from the pool, the council said, it could order him to shut down the system until it was fixed.
They added he had three years to start the construction. In 2022, the construction team said work was under way and published some photos of workers digging a hole.
Still the headaches continued. A plan to install a timber trellis around his garden was abandoned in January. An anonymous submission to planners said the trellis should have soundproofing, too. A plan for extensive pruning of a Robinia tree touching a nearby lamppost was also nixed.
“Foliage growing against street furniture does not necessitate the removal of a tree,” the council said.
A law firm in January filed to amend the planning restrictions around the basement, asking that the vibration monitoring regime be paused. “Construction works have currently ceased and will not be recommenced at the present time,” his lawyers wrote to town planners. A decision is pending.
Mr. Williams is rumored to no longer live in Woodland House. Mr. Page, according to a person familiar with the matter, now spends less time in the Tower House, preferring the even more tranquil setting of a vast property in the countryside.
Mr. Cook at Led Zeppelin News says the feud generated a lot of clicks, but now he wants it done. “I got quite fatigued with it,” he said.
Life isn't all business