Newly-formed 'sub squad' to stop nuisance basement developments

Westminster City Council has announced plans to use a new levy on those building new basements to fund a new 'subterranean squad' of basement nuisance busters

Sub squad: the new service was launched on 1 September (Picture: Geoff Sowrey/
Sub squad: the new service was launched on 1 September (Picture: Geoff Sowrey/

The new team of dedicated officers, which the council says is the first of its kind in the country, will be funded by a levy on those building new basements, "ensuring the resources are in place to actively monitor and enforce against un-neighbourly builders", Westminster City Council said in a statement.

It said that the levy is being drawn up as part of the local authority’s new Code of Construction Practice, which "classifies developments according to their size with different obligations and fees payable depending on the size of project".

The purpose of the new code is to monitor, control and manage construction impacts on sites throughout Westminster.

The council said that the new "subterranean squad" will "take a degree of oversight and control, for example making sites coordinate their deliveries and reduce the cumulative impact on residents".

The team will enforce stricter working hours and provide a point of contact for residents with complaints, the statement said.

Robert Davis, Westminster City Council’s deputy leader and cabinet member for the built environment, said: "We are sticking up for local residents, many of whom have found the explosion of basement development in recent years hellish.

"Westminster City Council supports the right kind of growth and is not against all basement development, but they must be carried out in a way that is considerate to local residents and the environment."

Westminster City Council said that, over the past five years, it has received on average 150 applications a year and has seen a trend towards "iceberg" basements where homeowners dig down two or more storeys.

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