The door creaks open, and a nervous face appears between the gap. The Crosthwaites’ maid has never seen anything quite like it as she tries to carry out one of her many daily duties. Think Consuela from Family Guy but even more twitchy, with even less lemon Pledge.
The closest she has been to the press is folding her employers’ copy of the Guardian.
It’s no wonder the cleaner is on edge as she attempts to take out the rubbish. Stamford Cottages is the story of the day, and photographers come and go snapping away as journalists loiter to try and grab a word with the headline makers.
We want to know all about how this well off family family over the rail track from Chelsea’s stadium plan to carry on putting a spanner in the works of the Blues transforming themselves into a world footballing powerhouse.
It was revealed this morning that Nicolas and wife Lucinda, in line with children Louis and Rose, have taken out an injunction preventing the Premier League champions from building their new stunning 60,000 capacity stadium.
Unlike Tottenham’s issue with a local business, they aren’t literally standing in the way of progress. The District Line tube track keeps the well-heeled foursome from those beer swiggers who sing about doing unmentionable things with celery every other Saturday.
Their home is actually in a different borough, but Chelsea’s big plan is in jeopardy because the Crosthwaites are concerned their pricey home may not get the light it needs should the Blues build up. If you aren’t looking for the quaint cottage placed at the end of a private road in SW10 then you’re likely to miss it.
It’s cute, compact and well-kept. The west London estate agents would call it “cosy” or “snug”. A similar property sold locally for nearly £1.2m last year. There’s a whimsical teeny pub buried in between a few houses in the next street. Being a private road you can’t help but wonder just how they keep the unrulies out on match days. Stella is certainly not served.
The family aren’t shy of a few quid, so aren’t budging.
Having lived there for more than 50 years, the family have told Chelsea that they won’t bow to pressure. They’ve even said no to six-figure compensation. That’s the maid’s payrise out the window.
We have to get in line as we attempt to extract some comment from Nicolas, who is home and seems to be enjoying the moment. More than happy for us to film, even if he says the legal process prevents him from talking.
A lady from the Mail of Sunday has beaten us to him as he comes out to say hello. Clearly there’s been a number who have popped by before us.
Even the Mail hack’s sweet-talking attempt of reminding Mr Crosthwaite that her boss is one of his neighbours can’t draw a statement. We’re encouraged to write down the number of his solicitor. “Well I for one hope David gets the better of Goliath on this occasion” offers the lady as she jots down his brief’s details. “Oh so do we!” says the owner.
We’ll know more on Monday, the council are meeting to decide what happens next.
Chelsea stress the land can be “compulsorily acquired” by the council – and override the injunction – if Hammersmith and Fulham “think it would contribute to the economic, environmental or social wellbeing of the area”.
“There is a real risk that the development will never commence,” a letter from Chelsea’s team of lawyers said to the council.
The Crosthwaites say this is not about money, it’s a moral issue. For a change, a Premier League club may not be able to solve a problem by writing a cheque.