Campaigner preparing dossier on basement damage in Camden

PUBLISHED: 12:00 09 January 2016

Oliver Froment is preparing a list of homes affected by basements. Picture: Nigel Sutton

Oliver Froment is preparing a list of homes affected by basements. Picture: Nigel Sutton

© Nigel Sutton email

A community campaigner is compiling a list of properties in Camden that have suffered structural damage because of basement developments.

Oliver Froment, chairman of Camden Residents Association and Action Committee (CRAAC), hopes to prove that Camden Council needs to take urgent action to protect neighbours and their homes from the effects of underground excavations.

He says he has already collected dozens of examples, but believes this is just “the tip of the iceberg” and has urged any householders who have suffered to contact him.

This comes as another Hampstead resident has called for “selfish” householders who build basement developents to pay compensation to their neighbours for ruining their quality of life.

Dr Mayer Hillman, of Netherhall Gardens, argued recently on the Ham&High letters pages that those benefiting from basement expansion should be forced by law to pay out one per cent of the total building costs to their neighbours.

He repeated this proposal in a discussion with Vanessa Feltz on BBC Radio London this week.

Mr Hillman said: “Families who can afford to do so are making major alterations to their homes by creating basements or building extensions. As part and parcel of this process, almost invariably, they move out for the whole time that construction is in progress, typically for about 12 months.”

He said that while their motive was to improve their own quality of life, they were markedly reducing the quality of their neighbours’ lives through intermittent noise, air pollution, dust, and the additional traffic.

“The law does not reflect recognition of this widespread and growing injustice. One way of compensating neighbours would be to require those who are responsible to be obliged by law to give, as a conciliatory gesture, say, one per cent of the building costs.”

Although not a fan of the compensation plan, Mr Froment, who battled against his neighbours’ basement scheme in Pilgrim’s Lane in 2014, hopes his list will help convince the council to take measures to protect neighbouring properties from damage.

He said: “There are immediate things that can be done within the current planning laws. Camden should adopt the policy that Chelsea and Kensington borough has implemented.”

He said all applicants should have to show that there will be zero damage to neighbouring properties with party wall agreements implemented before planning permission is granted.

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