London council approves 'Britain's biggest megabasement'

Reports that the London hotel Claridge's has been given the green light to build 'Britain's biggest basement' feature in today's newspaper round-up.

The Mayfair hotel "was given approval by Westminster council on Tuesday night to build a five-storey basement, creating 20,000 square feet of new floor space to house a swimming pool, spa, sauna, wine cellar and chocolatier", the Times (subscription) reports. The paper says that the approval "has raised eyebrows after years of action by Westminster council and the neighbouring local authority in Kensington and Chelsea to combat the proliferation of megabasements in those areas".

Sales of luxury apartments in London "have collapsed by more than 80 per cent since the spring in a ‘staggering’ market slump, the Evening Standard reports. The paper says that a "toxic combination of rocketing stamp duty rates and ‘Brexit blight’ have brought the capital’s prime property bonanza to an ‘almost complete standstill’ and could threaten Mayor Sadiq Khan’s ambitious house-building targets."

The influential economist and former Bank of England policymaker Dame Kate Barker has said that Britain’s housing crisis "will get much worse in the coming years unless building levels increase rapidly", the Telegraph reports. The paper says that "Dame Kate said that there is a gap of roughly 60,000 homes per year between the growth in household numbers and the number of homes being built".

The capital’s "biggest housing association, the Peabody Trust, is merging with a rival under plans that could help bring about its £1.5 billion overhaul of Thamesmead in south-east London", the Evening Standard reports. The paper says that "Peabody is combining with Family Mosaic in a move creating an association with 55,000 homes and 111,000 residents as well as £6 billion in assets".

Driverless cars "are set to reinvent and humanise our streets" according to an article in the Financial Times (subscription). The paper says that one immediate impact of driverless cars "would be less need for parking". "Designers and city planners are already salivating over what they could do with this reclaimed space", the paper says. 

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