London councils set to crack down on basement extensions

London councils set to crack down on basement extensions

One of the most popular trends for prime property owners in the last few years may come to an end soon, after London councils announced there could well be a crackdown on the practice across the course of the next few months and years. 

For some time, Central London prime property owners who have little space to extend their properties have been building down in an alternative trend that has become something of a status symbol. Excavating below the ground and making multiple storeys below ground, they can add many new rooms to their properties, with cinemas, swimming pools and wine cellars being just a few of the options that have spawned from this type of venture. 

Westminster and Kensington and Chelsea are just two of the areas of the capital where this sort of work has become common, but councils have faced increasing numbers of complaints from residents, who often have access to their streets blocked by the lorries and machinery needed to excavate soil from below ground. 

There are also sometimes complaints from residents of surrounding properties who raise concerns about the fact that there could be damage caused to other properties by such extensive work under ground. 

The real joy of this type of extension in recent years has been the fact that wealthy owners who were restricted by planning regulations are able to bypass these, but that reality may soon be a thing of the past, as councils are ready to change their policies. 

The Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea, for example, is about to introduce restrictions on basement extensions which would see them banned completely from listed properties, with all other homeowners being limited to just one storey below ground. 

Westminster Council is also going to introduce a regulation that will mean all such properties will need to have full planning permission for underground work. 

"Residents have been facing an underground epidemic on their quiet residential streets, and I want to help stop the horror stories of people living next to mega basement construction," said Robert Davis, Westminster Council's deputy leader. 

"All basements will now go before the council’s planning department, allowing neighbours and local communities to have their say and for developers to demonstrate they will not cause undue harm to neighbours or the character of the area," he added.