Basement Policy Change in Westminster
Westminster Council has introduced a new policy, aiming to ensure only suitable and appropriate basement development takes place across the city.
As a Ward Councillor in one of the busiest parts of London, a number of residents and businesses have raised the issue of disruptive developments across the area, specifically relating to basement developments.
After many years of work on this new policy I am delighted that we will now be able to manage basement development appropriately, in West End Ward, and across Westminster.
Only new applications for residential basement developments will be subject to the new policy, and existing consents are not affected.
The full basements policy will be voted on at the Westminster Council Meeting on November 11, and if approved it will be submitted to the Secretary of State to begin the examination in public.
The new policy will ensure that basement developments to existing residential buildings, or buildings originally built for residential purposes, must:
- Not extend beneath more than 50 per cent of the site area
- Provide a satisfactory landscaping scheme
- Not result in the loss of trees deemed as having townscape, ecological or amenity value
- Use natural ventilation wherever possible
- Incorporate sustainable urban drainage measures
- Protect the character and appearance of the existing building, garden setting and surrounding area
Other elements were commented on during the public consultation. The council is proposing to apply the following elements of the new policy from November 1, in advance of the Examination in Public:
- Limiting basement development to a single additional storey
- Properly protecting heritage assets and safeguarding significant archaeological sites
- Requiring a detailed structural method statement from a qualified engineer.
There are also further elements of the new policy which, in light of more detailed comments received regarding them, will be applied on a case-by-case basis from November 1, depending on how much weight can be applied to them in each instance:
- Require basement applications set out a margin of undeveloped land
- Require a minimum soil depth and volume