October 23 2014 Latest news:
by Imogen Blake
Thursday, September 26, 2013
Some of Highgate’s most historic homes – including that of supermodel Kate Moss – may be at risk of flooding from building works at London’s largest private house after Buckingham Palace.
Residents in the streets surrounding the Witanhurst mansion, off Highgate West Hill, fear that further development of the stately home will cause flooding at their homes again after suffering water damage in previous years.
Lady Gillian Sergeant, 86, has lived in The Grove with her husband for nearly 60 years, but her cellar had never flooded before work began to build a vast double-storey basement at Witanhurst in 2010.
“We had awful flooding when water came up and flooded the cellar,” she said. “We had to get the builders in. We’ve had it ever since they’ve been working on Witanhurst.
“We don’t want it to go on but how can we stop it?”
Kate Moss, who lives in the area, reportedly had to pay thousands of pounds in basement repairs after her cellar was flooded.
Reports of dampness and flooding in Highgate Village basements began after excavation works to build a £50million underground palace began at Witanhurst in 2010.
Although it is not known what caused the flooding, residents think it is linked to the construction works at Witanhurst.
Chairman of Fitzroy Park Residents’ Association Karen Beare said: “The problem of flooding happens when you have a significant basement blocking a significant ground water level, which floods neighbouring basements.
“Lady Sergeant told me she never had any problems underneath the house before. It’s too coincidental that Witanhurst has had nothing to do with it.”
When the vast subterranean development was finished late last year, the basement flooding came to an end.
But Highgate’s residents are worried their cellars will continue to flood in the face of even more building works at Witanhurst.
Plans submitted to Camden Council last month reveal details for an underground link between staff quarters beneath the main house and the gatehouse off Highgate West Hill.
Highgate Society planning and development chairman Elspeth Clements said: “We are hearing a lot of tales about basements.
“What we are trying to do is to get information and evidence from people affected so the council is more careful in approving basements next time.”
Further plans for the Witanhurst mansion include the refurbishment of the gatehouse, so that the building serves its original historical purpose as a point of entry for guests and the occupants, as well as providing access to the estate for staff and deliveries.
A spokesman for Camden Council said anyone applying to develop homes underground must provide a Basement Impact Assessment detailing the effect of the work.
He said: “For each new basement application, assessments identified no significant issues related to surface flows and flooding as a result of the additional basement works.”