I am delighted that the Royal Borough of Kensington & Chelsea has decided to call time on excessive basement developments.
It has drafted a series of proposals, which include a reduction in the extent basements can intrude into the garden, from 85 per cent to 50 per cent, with that 50 per cent being a single area of space, a restriction to a single storey in most cases, with exceptions only being considered for large comprehensive developments, an outright ban on basement developments under, or in the gardens, of listed buildings or where basements already exist, though again exceptions might be considered on very large sites and the compulsory installation of pumps to prevent flooding from sewers.
As many Kensington residents will be aware, this has been a controversial issue for some time. A sense of proportion is needed, which finds the right balance between the rights of individual homeowners to develop their properties on the one hand with the rights of their neighbours and the community-at-large to be guaranteed a certain level of peace and quiet on the other.
The Royal Borough has also expressed fears that excessive subterranean developments may threaten the area’s natural heritage, whether it be trees and greenery or our many listed buildings. These are concerns I share wholeheartedly.
Kensington is sometimes dismissed by outsiders as simply a bastion of the super-rich. This has never been the case, nor do I wish it to be so. The Royal Borough’s initiative deserves fulsome support. A six-week public consultation was launched on 21st March, and I would encourage any constituents who have an interest in this issue to participate.