Academic warns residents they need deep pockets to fight huge basement builds in Hampstead and Highgate

Residents need deep pockets to make sure their neighbours’ basement builds won’t destroy their homes, an academic has warned.

Dr Michael de Freitas said it is expensive to fight inappropriate basement excavations as the planning process can become drawn-out.

He added that those looking to install a basement often do not invest enough money in engineering expertise to ensure that the work will not cause long-term damage to neighbouring properties.

Dr de Freitas, emeritus reader of engineering geology at Imperial College London, made the comments as part of a talk entitled Basements in Highgate: Geology, Groundwater and Impacts at Highgate United Reformed Church, South Grove, Highgate Village, on Monday.

About 70 people gathered to hear the presentation, and several raised concerns about large basement builds in Highgate, including those at Witanhurst mansion and Channing School, which is due to get a new sports hall and theatre.

In September, the Ham&High revealed that luxury homes in Highgate, including that of Kate Moss, were flooded while basement excavation works at Witanhurst were taking place.