Camden to follow Kensington and Chelsea with mega basement ban

PUBLISHED: 17:00 26 March 2015 | UPDATED: 17:31 26 March 2015

Basement developments have caused huge problems for neighbours. Picture: Polly Hancock.

Basement developments have caused huge problems for neighbours. Picture: Polly Hancock.


Relieved residents have welcomed plans from Camden Council to emulate a landmark policy from another London borough to outlaw the construction of so-called “mega basements”.

Clare Latimer with the cracks in her walls. Picture: Polly Hancock.Clare Latimer with the cracks in her walls. Picture: Polly Hancock.

Camden Council is preparing to introduce rules limiting basement excavations to one-storey and banning them under listed buildings, following in the footsteps of Kensington and Chelsea Council which adopted the new rules in January to tackle the scourge of two and three-storey basements.

The crackdown follows a surge in basement developments across the capital as developers and homeowners look to capitalise on the soaring property market by extending underground to accommodate the likes of private cinemas, spas and swimming pools.

Between 2008 and 2014, Camden Council received 883 applications for basement builds and approved 684 of the applications.

Many of the developments have caused distress to neighbours who have been left with cracks in their walls and had to endure months, and even years, of disturbance.

Clare Latimer, 63, who lives in Elsworthy Road, Primrose Hill, is preparing to leave her home so workmen can repair substantial damage caused by a basement extension next door to accommodate an underground gym and cinema.

“Every single room has cracks in the walls and plaster falling from the ceiling,” she said.

“I welcome the council’s plans hugely but I would like to see the council introduce a rule where there’s a time limit on a basement excavation because it’s a living hell. This has been going on for four years.”

Stephen Ainger, 62, has endured the effects of basement excavations from neighbours in Downshire Hill, Hampstead.

He said: “It’s refreshing to see that the council are making an effort in Camden. I don’t think they quite yet appreciate the hell that neighbours go through.

“They have got some work to do to get the balance right between the desires of people to develop their homes and the rights of neighbours to enjoy their property.”

Cllr Phil Jones, cabinet member for regeneration, transport and planning, said: “We want our plan to be as robust as Kensington and Chelsea’s. If people don’t think we have been tough enough then please say.”

The proposed new rules for basement builds are part of a raft of new planning policies currently under consultation. The council hope to introduce the new policies by 2016.

To view the draft policies and find out about the consultation, visit

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