Basement planning controls aim to protect borough’s unique character and environment

Release Date: 20 November 2017

Richmond Council will launch recommendations and planning restrictions to control basement developments in order to protect the borough’s unique character and environment.

In 2016, Richmond Council set up a scrutiny panel, looking at the growing rise of basement expansions in the borough, following concerns by local residents – particularly in areas such as Barnes.

In addition, a forthcoming Local Plan policy on basement developments, which seeks to restrict the size and extent of basements amongst other criteria, is currently under consideration by an independent planning inspector as part of the Local Plan examination.

The scrutiny panel made a number of recommendations, accepted by the Council including:

  • Requiring people to seek planning permission for basement developments across the borough from Sunday 1 April 2018;
  • Reviewing and updating the existing Good Practice Guide on Basement Developments, first published in 2015, including guidance on fire risks;
  • Developing a Supplementary Planning Document (SPD) to provide guidance on the implementation of the emerging new Local Plan’s policy on basements, expected to be adopted in spring 2018;
  • Producing a new checklist for Flood Risk Assessments for developments involving basements and subterranean structures;
  • Introducing a levy in the borough on those building new basements to ensure resources are in place to actively monitor and enforce compliance from developers with agreed Construction Management Statements; this requirement has been incorporated into a Local Plan policy; and
  • Working with the Health and Safety Executive on concerns over the length of time to conclude the investigation for the case at 26 The Terrace, Barnes, which occurred in November 2015.

Cllr Martin Seymour, Cabinet member for Planning and Strategic Development said:

“I would like to thank the work of the scrutiny panel on this important issue. The recommendations accepted by the Council reflect the need to balance development with protecting the heritage of our borough and minimising 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.

“It is clear that a balance is needed between allowing homeowners to extend their properties whilst at the same time protecting the unique character of the borough, including the amenity of residents. These new restrictions and additional planning guidance, together with the forthcoming new planning policy on basements will go some way to addressing the potential impact of basements on our residents.”

A copy of the recommendations can be found here.

Notes for editors

If you are a journalist and would like further information about this press release, contact Lyle Skipsey on 020 8487 5182. 

Reference: P539/17

Updated: 1 December 2017