The development of basements in residential areas
Recently Councillor Phil Jones, Cabinet Member for Regeneration, Transport & Planning wrote to Brandon Lewis MP, Minister of State for Housing and Planning, Department for Communities and Local Government concerning basement developments and the lack of clear Government guidance.
I am writing to express my deep concerns about basement excavation being considered as permitted development rights and the lack of clear Government guidance on this matter. Whilst the Planning Portal provides helpful 3D guides for residents and developers on the specific dimensions of rear extensions and roof alterations, such guidance on basement excavation works is noticeably absent.
The development of basements in residential areas is becoming an increasing popular way of gaining additional space in homes. In 2014/15 alone, Camden Council received 219 planning applications involving basement excavation. The possibility that such intensive and disruptive development works can take place without needing any sort of formal planning permission causes great public concern. Basement construction is unlike any other household development permitted under the GPDO. Once completed, basements are often more damaging than extensions to properties, however that point is generally only reached after prolonged construction activities and the potential for disruption to neighbours and local businesses. Unlike rear extensions or garden structures, neighbours genuinely fear the real possibility of structural impacts on their home. Basement development can have a real and on-going impact on the natural and built environment of the site and the surrounding area. The control that is afforded by planning permission gives residents added assurance that these impacts have been taken into account before basement development starts and measures have been put in place to minimise those impacts, particularly during construction.