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The Importance Of Winning Over Neighbours During A Basement Design & Build Project

This week we read an interesting article published on PrimeResi, as written by Deborah Sharples & Emma Shipp, on how to avoid headaches when planning to build a basement in your home.


The key advice in the article emphasized the importance of winning over your neighbours when planning to construct a basement. Indeed, we would say this is an important factor in all major construction works you might plan to undertake at your property. This point was illustrated by two case studies, including former McClaren chief Ron Dennis, who after various complications received planning permission for a 230-foot subterranean garage beneath his Surrey mansion and The Amberwood House project in Knightsbridge.



Plans for Ron Dennis’ subterranean supercar garage (Runneymeade Council)

The former formula 1 team principal’s basement project is about as high-spec as they come. His 230-foot multi-level basement included plans for a car lift, turntable, workshop and even an art gallery, which he first applied for planning permission for back in 2013. Unfortunately for him this was turned down by the local planning authority, so Mr. Dennis appealed to a government planning inspector on the grounds his project was an ‘engineering operation’ appropriate to the location. Three years later and this time around planning permission was renewed and only approved last month, a total of 6 years after his original application, It turns out that one of the objections raised, was from a neighbour who was concerned about the possibility of increased noise and disturbance on the narrow roads nearby.

In cases where vibrations and noise caused by construction may disturb the peace in the neighbourhood, it’s important to ensure you plan for how these disturbances can be mitigated. From restricting access and parking to and from the site, to installing special sound proofing barriers, these shall help reassure planing officers that you are managing the risks. Most importantly however, the key lesson in Ron Dennis’s case was to speak to neighbours early on. This may have led to them supporting his project from the outset or indeed revealing any possible objections before putting in the planning application.

The other case study referenced was Amberwood House, despite not being on the scale of Ron Dennis’s basement project in Surrey, this project is about as complex and technical as they come. Given that the residence was located opposite the Grade I listed Victoria and Albert Museum in London, the whole facade of the house needed to be retained whilst everything inside the shell was being demolished for a three storey basement to be installed underneath. Adding to the complexities, the house is in close proximity to four adjoining homes, which would all need underpinning to protect them during the project. All the neighbours needed to be consulted and give their permission but planning permission was eventually granted by Kensington & Chelsea council in 201, before they tightened up many of their basement regulations. This complex build shows how being in good stead with your neighbours can make or break a basement build, particularly in tight quarters of prime central London.

The trend to build so-called “mega-basements”  featuring performance car garages, spas and media rooms has been growing in both London and beyond. These basements are classified as mega once they reach a certain size – usually three or more storeys built under the footprint of the house or two storeys built under the house and the garden combined.

Janine Stone & Co. have developed many designs and managed the construction of many such basements. We have a expertise in-house and through our established network with various planning specialists, who can advise across various stages of your basement project.