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Kensington & Chelsea wins battle against mega-basements

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The Royal Borough of Kensington & Chelsea has won its battle to curb a boom in the building of mega-basements in the borough

The strict guidelines, which were given the green-light by a planning inspector yesterday (2 December), set limits on the size of basements that can be built in the area.

The move means that 220 ‘frozen’ applications for new rooms, swimming pools, and parking garages beneath homes which had been put on hold ahead of the inspector’s decision will now starting moving through the system again.

However, most are expected to be rejected. According to Kensington & Chelsea the ‘vast majority of these cases would not comply with the new policy’.

Around 450 applications for new basements were received by the borough in 2013 – a tenfold increase from 46 in 2001. Thirty-three of last year’s applications were for basements two or more levels deep. 

The new guidance reduces the maximum extent a basement can extended under a property’s garden from 85 per cent to 50 per cent, restricts basements to single storeys, and bans any basement under a listed building

Kensington & Chelsea’s cabinet member for planning policy, Tim Coleridge, said: ‘Basements have been the single greatest planning concern our residents have expressed to us in living memory. Many have experienced years of misery from noise, vibration, dust and construction traffic.

‘Two years ago we started drafting a policy to try and strike the right balance between addressing our residents’ concerns and the genuine need for people to expand their homes.’

In October, news of the planned basement restriction was slammed by architects, who said the move was politically motivated and beyond the remit of town planning principles (AJ 30.10.14).

The guidelines will be formally adopted on 21 January 2015.

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Readers' comments (1)

  • Fairly predictable, however most of the "mega" basements we are working on are tiny, and watch this space, the full weight of these ultra vires guidelines will come to bear.
    If previous experience of "the borough that likes to say no" is anything to go by this will be interpreted it the most obstructive negative way imaginable.
    A hollow victory for the nimbies.

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