Councils to crackdown on mega basement extensions in London

Councils in London are starting to crackdown on wealthy property owners who want to extend their properties underground to create several storeys of living space as well as swimming pools, gyms and car parking.

Basement extensions several storeys below the ground have become increasingly popular in some of the capital's most expensive neighbourhoods in Westminster and Kensington and Chelsea but often result in complaints from neighbours.

Indeed, other home owners are not just worried about the noise and disturbance caused by what can amount to years of work, but also raise concerns about the effect of all this underground work on surrounding properties.

These so called ‘iceberg’ homes where more of the living space is underground than above ground have been used by owners to get round strict planning rules but now some councils are changing the regulations which could result in it being harder to get permission to go underground.

The Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea is about to introduce restrictions on basement extensions which will limit them to a single story and they will be banned completely from listed buildings.

Now Westminster Council has confirmed that basement extensions will require full planning permission and will also be limited to one storey apart from in exceptional circumstances.

This means that neighbours will have the opportunity to object to basement extensions through the normal planning process.

‘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.