Westminster gets tough on Subterranean Basements
Westminster Council has just set up a dedicated "subterranean squad" to ferret out "basement nuisance busters", the first of its kind in the UK. From September, a new levy, varying between £8000 - £30,000 depending on size of the proposed scheme, will be rolled out across the Borough to apply to all new basement applications.
The money raised from the levy will fund the costs of running the subterranean squad which will be responsible for monitoring the impact of works on amenity and enforce against "un-neighbourly builders". The levy is to be incorporated into the Council's updated Code of Construction Practice.
These dramatic steps supplement the tougher line taken by the Council within its new basement policies included within the revised City Plan adopted in July. Following the example set by neighbouring Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea, Westminster Council have tightened their basement policies to allow only single storey basements and limit building underneath more than 50% of total garden area (Policy CM28.1). Larger "iceberg" style basements will not be permitted unless exceptional circumstances can be proven to show that the development can be carried out without any adverse impact on neighbours accompanied by a high level of accessibility.