Basement excavations: South Hill Park case shows more clarity needed

ON Thursday of last week Cllr Roberts and I attended the Town Hall s development control meeting with the specific purpose of making our views felt on the policies that control basement development. The case concerned was a development at 94 South Hill

ON Thursday of last week Cllr Roberts and I attended the Town Hall's development control meeting with the specific purpose of making our views felt on the policies that control basement development.

The case concerned was a development at 94 South Hill Park and our views that the whole regime is confusing was supported by several late submissions on the evening

The Heath & Hampstead Society (of which we are both members) and The City presented a full review of the developers' hydro/geotechnical report which they independently commissioned and which countered the developers report.

Camden Officers also produced a late submission from the Environment Agency which, whilst critical in parts, finished by saying that if additional drainage measures were to taken, this development on its own would be acceptable. Hence the confusion.


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Tony Hillier spoke of the need to clarify planning regulations around the Town and Country Planning Act at PPG 14 which initially addressed areas of unstable land, particularly in mining areas.

He argues that Hampstead and Highgate fall into the category of unstable from the British Geographical Survey maps which indicate the area's slopes are made up Bagshot Sands at the top and downhill impermeable "true clays".

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These are interspersed by an overlay of random claygate beds which are an unpredictable mix of silty and sandy layers which, if disturbed by development, will cause instability and underground water problems.

He further argues that emerging policies DP23 and DP27 should be given weight in these applications along with the rest of the policies on basement development contained within the LDF which has received extremely strong local support.

Cllr Roberts and I are therefore calling on the council for clear legal steer on the interpretation PPG14 and the weight to be given to the emerging policies which will aid both objectors and developers. We are also asking for the following to taken into consideration in any basement applications.

1. The postponement of any new or renewal applications until the legal position is clear.

2. That developers are given a clear brief on deep bore hole sampling for every application.

3. That the hydro/geo reports are scrutinised by engineers be they internal or external and costs met BY the applicants.

These applications are not going to stop and these measures will not take away the inconvenience and misery that they cause, but we hope they will reduce some of the worries and ease the decisions of the planners.

This application was rejected by the committee but the matter will not rest there.

It is likely that the applicant will appeal the decision in which case there will be further costs to the council and valuable officer time will be tied up.

This is another good reason for the clarification we are asking for.

Cllr Chris Knight Conservative

Cllr Kirsty Roberts Conservative

Hampstead Town Ward

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