Kensington and Chelsea residents rejoice as ‘iceberg home’ movement thaws

Mansion owners in Kensington and Chelsea were dealt another blow earlier this month as the borough became the first in the UK to impose building restrictions on basements.

The borough council’s strict new guidelines were rubber-stamped by planning inspector David Vickery on December 1 and will bring an end to so-called ‘iceberg homes’ with mega-basements.

Kensington & Chelsea MP Sir Malcolm Rifkind said it had been very difficult to find a solution but was pleased that one had been found.

He said: “We’ve been working very closely with the council and residents’ associations on this.

“It’s the single biggest issue that my constituents have raised in the last 18months.”

Council leader Nicholas Paget- Brown described it as a ‘major victory’ for the council and the Royal Borough. Basement planning applications in Kensington and Chelsea are up 1,000% from 2001, with multiple-storey basement applications up 500% since 2008.

Cllr Coleridge said the policy took two years to draft and is an attempt to strike the right balance between addressing the concerns of residents and the genuine need for people to expand their homes.

The restrictions, which come into force on January 21, limit developers to single-storey extensions and impose a 35% reduction in the extent basements can expand under gardens. It also imposes an outright ban on basements under listed buildings.

The council will also require a construction traffic management plan to be submitted with any basement planning application to ensure minimum disruption.

“It hasn’t been easy and basement developers have aggressively opposed us every step of the way,” said Cllr Coleridge.

“We are delighted the inspector agrees that we have got it right while at the same time praising us for our extensive public consultation.”

Mega basements are the latest in a string of property issues affecting Kensington and Chelsea residents.

Sir Malcolm branded the controversial mansion tax proposed by the Labour Shadow Chancellor Ed Balls for homes worth more than £2m was ‘totally ridiculous’.

Earlier this month campaign group Stop the Mansion Tax organised a public meeting to find a way to fight the controversial initiative being implemented.

Cllr Paget-Brown said: “A lot of residents bought their houses many years ago and although their house may have gone up in value, their cash and income will not have gone up as much.”

Reports also suggest that the Kensington and Chelsea borough will be worst hit by Chancellor

George Osborne’s changes to stamp duty that came into force last week.

While stamp duty will fall on cheaper properties, those worth more than £900,000 will see a rise which will disproportionately hit homes in the capital.

“I understand why he’s doing it and I am not firmly against it,” said Sir Malcolm. “Governments have to make difficult decisions and we have to get the balance right.”

Picture courtesy of Foreign and Commonwealth Office, with thanks

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