London borough of Kensington and Chelsea becomes the first local authority to restrict the development of “mega basements”

Basement extensions have become an increasingly popular trend amongst the rich as a way to increase their living space, without infringing strict planning controls. However, this trend is set to diminish in the London Borough of Kensington and Chelsea as the local authority becomes the first to restrict the subterranean developments.

The trend, which has led to an increase in the number of “iceberg homes”, has gathered pace in the last 10 years with the number of planning applications for basement extensions rising from just 46 in 2001 to 450 last year in Kensington and Chelsea alone.

Some of the more ludicrous plans to have been recently approved are those of Gert-Rudolf Flick whose mega basement was to be built two storeys deep and consist of two rooms just for clothes – winter and summer – a luggage store, 50 ft swimming pool and a cinema.

Another won permission for his mega basement to be used as a car museum to store his prized Ferraris, whilst a neighbour insisted that his subterranean swimming pool be lined with marble from the same quarry as the Taj Mahal.

Belief-defying plans like these however, will cease to be successful as the local authority for Kensington and Chelsea will limit how far the extensions are allowed to stretch under the garden, reduce their depth to only one storey and ban them completely under listed buildings.

The move comes after council 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.” 

The restrictions approved by Kensington and Chelsea council are set to be adopted in January 2015 and are likely to set a precedent for other boroughs where the development of mega basements is popular, including Westminster and Wandsworth.

BT                                                                                04.12.14

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