The number of planning applications for basement excavations in Kensington and Chelsea has been increasing almost exponentially over the last decade or so. In 2001, there were 46 applications; 192 in 2007; and 450 in 2013 (although since then applications have dwindled to a mere trickle).
During this period, in respose to the concerns raised, the Council has put in place a number of policies that have put restrictions on basement development. They have also imposed a number of quite onerous requirements for documentation that has to be produced before planning permission can be granted. The current policies are now mainly set out in the following documents:
Until April 2016, basements entirely “under the footprint of the house” could be built without planning permission. After considerable pressure from the Ladbroke Association and others, the Council made an “Article 4 direction” applying throughout the borough to require these basements to have planning permission. After a period of consultation, the Article 4 direction was confirmed on 15 April 2016 and came into effect on 28 April 2015. So all basements now require planning permission. Any basement construction started before 28 April 2016, however, can go ahead under the old rules.
Also in April 2016 (revised in 2019), the Council issued a Code of Construction Practice. This applies to all building developments, but is particularly relevant to basement projects given the noise and vibration problems associated with them. Not all of the provisions in the code can be enforced by the Council, but many can, so if you are unlucky enough to be living next to a basement excavation, it is well worth your familiarising yourself with it so that you take up any breaches with the Council.
For further details see https://www.rbkc.gov.uk/environment/code-construction-practice
In order to inform its policy on basements, the Council commissioned two reports from internationally respected firms of civil engineers, one published in 2008 and one in 2013. Although these are now quite old, they – and in particular the second – contain much useful technical information. They are:
When the Council grants planning permission for a basement development, it normally makes the planning permission subject to various conditions, and also includes a number of “informatives” – advice on other requirements that applicants will need to meet. More information on conditions and informatives.
This page was last updated on 25.4.20