The London neighborhood of Kensington is discussing rules to ban “mega basements” being constructed under the home and property of the wealthy:
The “iceberg home” mega basements dug three or four storeys into the ground with private cinemas, spas and swimming pools are set to be banned in one of London’s most affluent areas.
New draft rules that will limit basements to a single storey and impose much tighter limits on how far they can extend under a garden were today published by Kensington and Chelsea council.
The move follows a huge surge in applications for basements over recent years as wealthy owners have sought to by-pass planning restrictions on changes to their homes above ground by massively extending their living space underneath.
The subterranean extensions have often outraged local residents because of the noise, dust and disruption caused by digging them out, which can last for up to two years…
One of the most notorious applications was by former Foxtons estate agency owner Jon Hunt who successfully submitted plans for a cavernous basement under his home in Kensington Palace Gardens that included a tennis court and a showroom for his collection of Ferraris.
This sounds very similar to anti-McMansion ordinances with outcry over the disturbance to the neighborhood and restrictions on how big these basements can be. But, on the other hand, there is a big difference: these underground basements are hidden out of view and theoretically shouldn’t change the visible character of the neighborhood much. In some ways, the basements are genius: why not make use of underground space that is less disruptive and doesn’t alter the neighborhood’s appearance? I wonder if this is really just about construction inconvenience or it is more of a reaction to rich newcomers making changes.
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