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Property mogul Fergus Wilson aims to increase height of buildings in Wateringbury Conservation Area by two storeys

Property mogul Fergus Wilson aims to increase height of buildings in Wateringbury Conservation Area by two storeys

Never one to stay out of the limelight for long, multi-millionaire property landlord Fergus Wilson is raising people’s hackles again.

He and his wife Judith acquired national fame for having created one of the country’s most successful buy-to-let empires, reaching 900 properties and worth at its peak an estimated £250m.

Fergus Wilson: Same old objections

He has also been in the media – and sometimes in court – for various brushes with his tenants and with council officials.

In March 2019, he was branded by the BBC Panorama programme as “Britain’s most controversial landlord”.

However, for the last four years, Mr and Mrs Wilson have been selling off their property empire and it is part of that process that has led to the most recent controversy.

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The Boughton Monchelsea residents own three properties on the corner of Wateringbury crossroads, at the junction with Redhill Road and Tonbridge Road, at the very centre of the village. They are numbers 182, 184 and 186 Tonbridge Road.

Two weeks ago, his agent submitted a planning application to Maidstone council to raise the height of the properties by one storey, in order to convert them from four dwellings into seven flats.

How the building looks now

The application caused an immediate flurry of complaints, with people saying it would be overbearing, out of character and damaging to the Conservation Area.

There were also concerns at the potentially enormously disruptive effect that the construction work would have, with people assuming that scaffolding would be required around the property that would impinge on the road carriageway.

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Back in December 2019, Tonbridge and Malling council stepped in to carry out compulsory repair work to one of the buildings after a significant crack appeared in the facade prompting fears that part of the building was about to fall on cars or pedestrians below.

The work necessitated narrowing the carriageway, which in turn led KCC to temporarily change the phasing of the traffic lights at the junction so that traffic from only one arm cound enter the crossroads at a time.

That led to serious congestion and cancelled bus services for several months.

Four years ago, Tonbridge and Malling council carried out compulsory repairs to the building, which caused extensive traffic chaos

But speaking to KentOnline, Mr Wilson dismissed the public’s objections as “the sort of complaint you get all the time”.

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He said an extra two floors could be added using what he described as “the overhead” method from inside the building, although he admitted: “There would be some disruption obviously.”

He claimed that property owners were entitled to raise the heights of existing buildings by up to two storeys under a relaxation of property laws introduced by the government in September 2020.

When KentOnline pointed out that his agent had, in fact, applied for permission to raise the building by only one storey, Mr Wilson said that was a mistake. The intention was actually to raise it by two floors.

Details of the application can be found on the Tonbridge and Malling council website here.

How the buildings will look, with an extra two storeys

Application 23/01186 refers.

Mr Wilson said it was not his intention to add the extra floors himself. He was seeking to dispose of the building and wished to maximise its value by selling it with the additional planning permission.

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  • June 25, 2023