As was reported last week, Edwin Coe has successfully petitioned on behalf of our client the Government of France for the rejection of planning applications made to the Royal Borough of Kensington & Chelsea (RBKC) in relation to the substantial proposed basement development at 10 Kensington Palace Gardens. Further information about the long-running opposition to the proposed development can be obtained here.

The planning applications submitted concerned the proposed development of a multi-storey 11m deep basement beneath 10 Kensington Palace Gardens, which is a listed building. Numerous objections to the proposed development were raised from neighbouring embassies including our client and therefore the planning applications were scrutinised by RBKC’s Planning Committee. After deliberation, the Planning Committee refused the planning applications on the principal basis that the proposed development would not satisfy its planning ‘Policy CL7’ which has applied to basement developments since January 2015.

Policy CL7 was introduced by RBKC as a result of increasing popularity for basement developments. RBKC alone received 393 planning applications which included a basement in 2014, compared with 180 in 2010. In view of this increasing desire for property owners to construct basements – especially in London – public concern has also increased regarding such developments. Basement excavations often involve lengthy construction periods and, as a result, neighbouring residents can suffer prolonged disturbance from factors incidental to construction, such as noise, vibration and dust. More seriously, basement developments can also lead to structural instability of nearby buildings and, in some cases, entire properties have collapsed because of this.

In an effort to limit basement developments, Policy CL7 contains certain provisions which apply to all proposed basement developments in RBKC. By way of example, Policy CL7 generally requires basement developments to not cover more than 50% of a property’s garden area and not comprise more than one storey. Furthermore, basements should not be constructed under listed buildings. In applying these criteria to the planning applications sought for 10 Kensington Palace Gardens, RBKC’s Planning Committee concluded that they failed to be met. The planning applications were consequently refused for this reason.

The move to curtail basement developments by RBKC has also been followed by other local authorities. The City of Westminster, for instance, has recently announced that it will be implementing new powers to limit the size and depth of basement constructions within its boundary. It is therefore clear that local authorities are adapting their basement planning policies to try and achieve a balance: the interests of homeowners who wish to construct basement extensions and those of neighbouring residents who are concerned about the associated implications.

Separately, Edwin Coe has also obtained permission to appeal to the Court of Appeal regarding other historic planning applications granted to Mr Hunt, the owner of 10 Kensington Palace Gardens. The case is due to be heard in 2017 and will decide whether Mr Hunt still has a valid planning consent for these historic applications.

If you are concerned about a proposed basement development within close proximity to your property and you require specialist advice, please contact Shams Rahman – Partner, or any member of our Property Litigation team.

Please note that this blog is provided for general information only. It is not intended to amount to advice on which you should rely. You must obtain professional or specialist advice before taking, or refraining from, any action on the basis of the content of this blog.

Edwin Coe LLP is a Limited Liability Partnership, registered in England & Wales (No.OC326366). The Firm is authorised and regulated by the Solicitors Regulation Authority. A list of members of the LLP is available for inspection at our registered office address: 2 Stone Buildings, Lincoln’s Inn, London, WC2A 3TH. “Partner” denotes a member of the LLP or an employee or consultant with the equivalent standing.

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