Something fishy? Arsenal legend Thierry Henry scraps plan for giant aquarium in plans for new home

Thursday, 17th May 2012

Artist’s impression of Thierry Henry’s original plans for his home in Hampstead

Published: 17 May, 2012
by TOM FOOT

IN the end, there was no giant fish tank for Arsenal goalscoring legend Thierry Henry – not because planning chiefs would not let him build one, but because he didn’t apply for one.

The Frenchman’s curious proposal for a four-storey aquarium attracted national press attention for its 5,500-gallon capacity.

It was included in a planning application made to Camden Council in February in which the soccer star asked for permission to demolish his £6million mansion in Hampstead and build a new luxury home in its place.

But by the time the planning committee meeting set up to review the World Cup winner’s proposals kicked off on Thursday night the fish tank part of the designs had been removed.

Mr Henry’s architects said they were operating a “no comment policy” and agents declined to comment on the apparent change of heart over the 40ft aquarium.

Mr Henry had faced criticism for his desire to knock down his current home, which was only built in 1999, and start again by building another.

But councillors at the Town Hall said that there was no reason to stop him making the swap, voting in favour of approving the scheme in a 9-2 show of hands.

Mr Henry’s home was originally designed by award-winning architect Sir Richard MacCormac and was shown in the Royal Academy Summer Exhibition and later rev­iewed in the Architects’ Journal in 2000.

The new house will have three instead of four storeys, but will include a 6.2-metre deep basement for a swimming pool. Although the fish tank has gone, it will contain a new storm water drainage system.

English Heritage and Thames Water did not raise any objections, but the Twentieth Century Society said the existing house was “outstanding” and the Heath and Hampstead Society said the new designs had “no style or elegance”.

Only councillors Milena Nuti and Laura Trott voted against the scheme with nine councillors backing Mr Henry.

Civil servants in  the council’s planning department had recommended the project be approved, reporting that the redesigned building would be “significantly reduced in bulk” with a “contemporary feel” and “quite invisible” from the street.

Cllr Roger Freeman said: “How do we know in 15 years time, people will not be saying, ‘why on earth did people approve it – it was so unsustainable?’.”

In reply, council officials told the meeting that 85 per cent of the old house would be recycled and that there would be solar panels in the new design.

Planning documents show Mr Henry will have to pay a levy towards the Crossrail project after Mayor Boris Johnson said any planning permission adding more than 100sqm to a new dwelling should include a contribution to the east-to-west railway scheme.

A Camden Council press official confirmed the aquarium plan had been removed from Henry’s application.
 

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