London District Wins Backing to Curtail Luxury Basement Digs

The Royal Borough of Kensington & Chelsea won backing from the U.K. government to limit the size of basement extensions after a boom in construction projects by wealthy property buyers sparked complaints.

Basements will be limited to 50 percent of the length of a property’s back yard, down from 85 percent, under the plan, which will be formally adopted on Jan. 21, the district said in an e-mailed statement. In most cases, basements will be restricted to a single level and reconstruction under historically protected buildings will be banned.

Many homes in London’s best neighborhoods are more than a century old and lack the space and amenities that wealthy buyers expect, leading to an increase in subterranean extensions. Planning applications for basement projects have ballooned to 450 in 2013 from 46 in 2001 to, according to the statement.

“Basements have been the single greatest planning concern our residents have expressed to us in living memory,” Tim Coleridge, the district’s cabinet member for planning policy said in the statement. “Many have experienced years of misery from noise, vibration, dust and construction traffic.”

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