Tough new planning controls for basement developments in Richmond

Release Date: 06/03/2017

New Planning controls to manage the creation of basements in the borough will come into effect on 1 April 2018, thanks to Richmond Council.

Currently, under national legislation called Permitted Development rights, Planning Permission is not required for including a basement underneath an existing property and there is no process for neighbours or adjoining residents to voice their concerns.

Soaring local property values and a lack of land has led to an unprecedented level of underground development across the borough, most notably in Barnes but also Kew and Richmond, as residents seek to extend their homes and living space by adding basements to existing properties.

There is no way to ascertain the exact amount of basements built under permitted developments rights as we have no ability to be able to monitor them. However, since 2011, there have been 553 applications for new basements or extensions to existing basements, and the majority of applications have been received in the Barnes area. There has been a particularly significant increase in extensions to basements, and the analysis shows that this trend is continuing.

The noise, dust and impact on traffic (caused by construction vehicles removing soil) has had a significant impact on neighbourhoods, often for an extended period of time. This has led to the Council to consider putting in place stricter controls to limit the impact of basement developments on residents.

The Council has therefore made two Article 4 Directions to remove the permitted development rights for basements, which together will cover the whole borough.

Cllr Pamela Fleming, Richmond Council Cabinet Member for Environment, said:

“Any development must be sensitive to the heritage of our borough and take into account the impact on local residents.

“We're seeing a growing trend towards more and bigger basements, including extensions, as the value of homes – particularly large ones – continues to soar. As a result, the excavation of basements has been a concern of many residents, particularly those in Barnes and Kew. Many have experienced years of misery from noise, vibration, dust and construction traffic.

“Local people should not have to live with continual disruption as a result of extensive basement developments.

“The Article 4 Directions will not prevent or stop the construction of basements; however, they will make sure that the impacts of basement extensions, including new basements, are properly assessed in accordance with local planning policies.

“These new restrictions, together with the new planning policy, on residential basements will go some way to addressing their impact on our residents and ensure that those developments that do take place are carried out in a considerate manner.”

In addition, the Council is currently reviewing its local planning policies, and the Publication Local Plan, which has been subject to its final last public consultation earlier this year, contains for the first time a specific planning policy that restricts the size and extent of basements, and requires applicants to demonstrate that the works would safeguard the structural stability of neighbouring buildings.

The new Local Plan will be subject to examination in public later this year and is anticipated to be adopted early 2018. It is important to introduce an Article 4 Direction alongside a planning policy for basement developments to ensure the tighter controls and restrictions set out in the policy can be applied.

To find out more, and have your say, see Article 4.

Updated: 21 June 2017