Skip to content

UK Government seeks evidence on impact of super basement developments

As part of a review of so called super basements in London, the UK Government is seeking evidence on how these developments impact on neighbouring properties.

It is asking for details on the number of basement developments, how they are treated by the planning system and how any adverse impact can be dealt with through the planning system with a submission deadline of 16 December.

The review is in response to further concerns raised during parliamentary consideration of the Housing and Planning Act 2016 and wider worries about the construction of residential basements beneath existing buildings becoming increasingly popular.

These super basements, which can extend under homes and gardens, are a major issue in inner London in particular due to the high cost of land and constraints on sideways or upwards development.

‘In some cases this has led to concerns being raised about the impacts of such developments on neighbouring properties and local amenity. These concerns have been expressed within communities, in Parliamentary debates and through media coverage,’ the consultation document says.

The issues highlighted have included the impact on neighbouring properties during the development, the length of time the development takes, disturbance caused where a number of developments take place simultaneously in a single road and potential increased flood risks through development affecting drainage systems.

‘The Government has listened to the concerns raised in the past and worked with key stakeholders to provide clarity on what safeguards are required before carrying out basement development. Working with the Basement Information Centre we have produced updated guidance on the requirements and consents as well as the construction of basements,’ the document explains.

‘This Call for Evidence takes forward this commitment. It seeks evidence on the number of basement developments being taken forward, how these developments are currently dealt with through the planning system and whether any adverse impacts of such developments could be further mitigated through the planning process,’ it adds.

The review is not considering whether or not basement development should be permitted, but rather how the planning process manages the impacts of that development where it is permitted.

Currently work on basements is required to be carried out in accordance with the Construction (Design and Management) Regulations 2015 and to help mitigate the impacts of building works once they are underway, some local authorities also publish Codes of Conduct for Considerate Contractors to help ensure work is taken forward in the correct manner, with minimum disruption, and may agree a Construction Method Statement before works begin.

Basement developments must also meet the relevant requirements of the Building Regulations 2010 which require the work to meet minimum performance standards, such as for structural safety and local authorities also have powers through the Environmental Protection Act 1990 and Control of Pollution Act 1974 to address noise and other potential nuisance from construction sites.

Most basement developments would also fall within the requirements of the Party Wall etc. Act 1996 which provides a framework for resolving disputes with adjoining building owners.

The Government wants to hear from those who have experience of, or been affected by, basement development, either directly or indirectly. Contributions are invited from all interested parties including householders who have carried out works, those living alongside basement development, local planning authorities, professional bodies and building companies.