Legal Challenge Against Basement Restrictions Fails

Mega London basement conversions have hit the headlines again as one homeowner has just failed in her bid to challenge Kensington and Chelsea’s Council’s policy of restricting basement conversions of more than one storey deep. The challenge was dismissed by high court judge Mrs Justice Lang in July 2015.

Zipporah Lisle-Mainwaring had planned to construct a two-storey basement beneath her central London townhouse in Kensington but was held back by the policy – and by neighbours who raised objections regarding her plans to also demolish her property, the Guardian reports.

The local council’s basement policy was introduced in January amid growing concerns relating to the number of applications for basement conversions in the area. While they are still permitted, their scale is now limited.

Following a lengthy consultation and review process, the council decided that since the borough is so densely populated and there can be a number of basement developments ongoing simultaneously in the same street, quality of life of those living in the area could be affected.

Other concerns include structural stability, sustainable drainage, carbon emissions and the character of rear gardens. As such, the council came to the conclusion that form, scale and extent of these basement conversions – while still permitted – would need to be carefully controlled.

The policy restricts basement excavations to no more than under half the garden and limits the depth to a single storey, typically between three to four metres floor to ceiling height, in the majority of instances. However, a small additional allowance may be permitted for proposals including a swimming pool.

It is thought that this will help to protect living conditions in the borough and limit the noise, vibration and presence of heavy vehicles in the local area.


If you live in Kensington and Chelsea and are considering a basement extension please call us to discuss your plans before commissioning your new plans. We have a 100% success rate in obtaining consents for basement conversions throughout all London Boroughs.