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Hertsmere publishes building underground guidance

Words: Laura Edgar

Hertsmere Borough Council has published draft guidance on the building of basements in the area.

Proposals that aim to clarify what is acceptable for design, size, proportion and access in new or existing homes have been put forward in the council’s updated Draft Planning and Design Guide.

It also includes the impact of basements on rear gardens, trees and car parks.

The document is part of the council’s planning guidance for all forms of development in the borough.

Harvey Cohen, portfolio holder for planning and localism, said the council understands that basements can be a answer when people need more space but don’t have room to extend above ground and don’t want to change the external appearance of their home.

“However, new basements can also have negative repercussions for homeowners and their neighbours. They can increase the flood risk and put pressure on drainage; they can impact on garden space and the environmental cost of excavating and occupying a basement can be significant.

“We want all schemes involving basements to be sustainable and proportionate to the home and the location, and constructed in a way that minimises the disruption and impact on the environment.”

The guide also includes clarification on the council’s approach to taller buildings and the demolition and replacement of buildings in conservation areas.

Cohen said a lot of the proposed changes have been made to take account of the introduction of new national and local policies, as well as responding to changes in the kinds of developments taking place in Hertsmere.

A public consultation on the revised document concludes on Monday 21 November.

The Draft Revised Planning and Design Guide Part D 2016 can be found here.

Earlier this year, Westminster City Council introduced a new “subterranean squad” for local residents to contact about basement developments.

The service will be funded by a levy on those building new basements, ensuring that the resources are in place to actively monitor and enforce against unneighbourly builders, said the council.

The levy is being drawn as part of the council’s new Code of Construction Practice, which sets out best practice for building sites such as basements.

Read more here.

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