There has been a sharp rise in the number of mega-basement planning applications across many parts of the capital as wealthy Londoners look at innovative ways of adding sizeable value to their homes, new figures show.
In many of London’s most upmarket districts, developers are being appointed to create underground extensions - known as ‘iceberg basements’- to allow the rich and famous to expand their homes to accommodate private cinemas, gymnasiums, offices and ultimately significantly more value to their not-so-humble abode by increasing their living space without infringing strict planning controls.
Fresh figures released by the Labour party in London reveal that planning applications for mega-basements in some of the city’s smartest neighbourhoods has soared over the past five years, led by a surge in Hammersmith and Fulham where applications more than doubled between 2010 and 2015.
Labour looked at 12 of London’s most exclusive boroughs and found that mega basement planning applications rose from 378 to 826 during the five-year period - a rise of 448, or 118.5% - despite the fact that some boroughs, such as Kensington and Chelsea, have introduced tighter restrictions on basement developments with more than one storey.
The mega-basement craze began around 15 years ago when it was often the most economical way of creating additional space, not to mention value, in light of more stringent rules against extending aboveground.
But in spite of major room for growth, digging across many parts of London is not simple, especially in central areas, with various projects leading to widespread complaints due to intolerable noise and traffic problems, which can go on for months or even years.
Politicians are now under growing pressure to clampdown on the super-rich to prevent them from developing luxury basement extensions because they cause case widespread disturbance to neighbourhoods.
Labour’s London mayor candidate Sadiq Khan (below) has now vowed to give local authorities greater power to block applications and reverse the increasingly popular of building basement extensions several storeys below the ground.
He said: “The growth of super basements has been really damaging for communities in Hammersmith and Fulham and across London.
“They cause disruption, noise and annoyance for thousands of Londoners, blighting neighbourhoods for months on end. People have also expressed real concerns about the impact on mega-basements on the foundations of surrounding buildings."
As mayor, Khan has promised to give greater protection to local residents in London by amending the London Plan to limit the size of so-called mega basement extensions.
“This will give neighbours greater protection from the noise, dust and disruption major works on this scale can cause to households and communities,” he added.