Assembly calls on Mayor to crack down on basement development


The London Assembly has called on Mayor Boris Johnson to establish strong London-wide planning policies to prevent inappropriate basement development. The Mayor’s draft Further Alterations to the London Plan do not include any policy on basements development. 

Sub-terranean development is a growing issue in some parts of London, where the super-rich are digging deeper and wider in an effort to cram swimming pools, cinemas, and gyms into often historic homes. These developments can cause flooding, sink holes and structural damage to neighbouring buildings, and construction is often severely disruptive to the neighbourhood.

The worst-affected boroughs have policies to limit inappropriate basement development, but without the backing of a strong policy in the London Plan they will find it difficult to enforce and can see their decisions overturn by inspectors.

A motion proposed by Murad Qureshi was agreed yesterday with unanimous cross-party support, and calls on the Mayor to introduce such a policy in his London Plan. The alterations currently being consulted on provide an opportunity to add a policy preventing inappropriate basement development. 

Murad Qureshi AM, who proposed the amended motion, said:

“Basement development is a rising problem fuelled by high land prices. It is spreading across the capital  and means prolonged disruption to residents as well as the risk of structural damage to neighbouring homes. The alterations to the London Plan currently under consultation is the perfect opportunity for the Mayor to help curb this growing problem.”

Nicky AM, Labour group planning spokesperson and who seconded the amended motion, said:

“London’s councils are desperate to tackle the growing problem of basement development, but they need to be backed up by a strong policy in the London Plan. The Mayor must take note that every single member of the Assembly of all parties supported this motion calling on him to address the issue.”



  1. Murad Qureshi AM and Nicky Gavron AM are London-wide Labour membesr of the London Assembly.
  2. The London Plan is the spatial planning strategy for London. The draft Further Alterations to the London Plan were published 15 January for consultation concluding on 10 April. The alterations can be found here:
  3. Most local authorities have planning policy on basement development but four of the boroughs where the problem is most acute – LB Camden, LB Haringey, RB Kensington and Chelsea, and LB Westminster – have or are developing special policies to tackle it.
  4. The full text of the amended motion agreed at today’s meeting reads as follows: “This Assembly notes that inappropriate basement development is an increasing problem within London. In the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea, for example, planning applications for basements rose from just 13 in 2001, to 182 in 2010, and to 307 in 2012. Some of these renovations are turning already-large homes into massive iceberg houses, and can cause flooding, sink holes and structural damage to neighbouring buildings. Despite the rising concern, the draft Further Alterations to the London Plan (FALP) does not include a specific policy on subterranean development. Although draft Supplementary Planning Guidance and the current policy on sustainable design and construction require consideration of some issues, London must adopt stronger policies to help boroughs prevent unnecessary basement development, such as prohibiting extensions under listed buildings and limiting the size and depth of new and redeveloped basements. This Assembly therefore calls on the Mayor of London to revise the FALP to include a specific policy against inappropriate basement development.”


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