Billionaire's plans for £65 million derelict mansion approved

Athlone House
Athlone House

A Ukrainian-born billionaire has been given planning permission to restore a derelict mansion on the edge of London's Hampstead Heath.

Mikhail Fridman bought Athlone House earlier this year for £65 million from a Kuwaiti family who had been refused permission to knock it down and build a new mansion double the size.

But because Fridman wants to keep the existing house, he's been given the go-ahead for his extravagant plans. They will make the house worth an estimated £130 million - one of the most expensive in London.

Councillors at Camden Council voted unanimously in favour of the plans, with one commenting that it was a 'fantastic scheme'.

Athlone House, set in five acres of gardens, was built in the mid-nineteenth century for MP Edward Brooke, who made a fortune in aniline dye.

It later became a military convalescent home, housing soldiers in both world wars, and was run by the NHS until the late 1990s.

Fridman has grand plans for the site, including an underground swimming pool, tennis courts and cottages for staff. There will be a new gate house, a new woodland walk, a pond and a fruit terrace.

Inside, the finished house will be six bedroom suites, a large living room, dining room, 'relaxation area', cigar room, and study - as well as a gym, a yoga room, a wine cellar and a media room. Original features ripped out during the house's years as a hospital will be reinstated, including a tower.

Work will start next year, and is expected to be finished by 2019.

Fridman, 52, earlier told the Ham and High paper that he liked the area because of its views and its proximity to central London.

"It intrigued me that the building had originally been designed as a family home about 130 years ago for a wealthy industrialist working in London," he said.

"It felt like fate that I, as a businessman, would be similarly drawn years later to the same property and grounds."

Father of four Fridman started out as a metallurgical engineer, but took advantage of Mikhail Gorbachev's reforms to start a series of businesses. In 1988, he co-founded multi-national conglomerate Alfa-Group, and two years later Alfa-Bank, which is now the largest private bank in Russia.