The number of basement and other subterranean residential developments have risen dramatically in recent years, with homeowners looking to maximise their home’s potential – whether they be modest suburban projects or mega-basements in central London mansions – digging down is certainly on the up.

Unlocking extra space clearly has huge advantages in terms of adding extra value and is always an attractive proposition, however, the new trend is becoming a very contentious issue in some London communities with neighbours often facing disturbance during construction as well as raising structural concerns.

In light of mounting residents pressure, some London authorities have tightened their planning policies and procedures when considering such applications, however, the planning starting point remains the same; whether the basement requires planning permission or whether it is permitted development under the Town and Country planning order.

It would appear that the interpretation of the law varies from one local authority to another, with Kensington and Chelsea, Westminster and Camden having accepted a more hard-nosed approach to subterranean expansion and making Article 4 directions restricting Permitted Development rights.

Now, any basement development within these boroughs requires Planning Permission, then it assesses against planning policy. The three authorities also have policies that restrict the size of basements to 50% of the site cartilage or garden area and restrict excavation to one level down.

Richmond Borough Council, given the increase in demand for this type of work, has published a detailed advice guide, available here.

Successful basement development is certainly still possible despite great scrutiny, and with the help of the right legal team and advisors, alongside an experienced project management and construction company, there is no reason to discount the option for your home.

It is of course also important to carefully consider all planning, building regulation and party wall legislation and (where applicable) freeholder’s consents when acquiring a property with a basement conversion already in place.

Our Property Team would be delighted to advise you on any Residential or Commercial matter, so please call us today on 020 8977 8621.