London Street

In the News: The End of an Era for Mega Basements?

We love it when our industry is in the news. It gives us an amazing opportunity to refute all the nonsense written about basements and hopefully, give those people who are thinking about getting their basement done peace of mind.

Basements are a popular topic for negative press, but for those who can read between the lines they represent an excellent and cost-effective way of extended your property. Many of our clients live in the city, where above ground space is rare and so rather than be driven from their home to find more space, a basement enables them to increase their habitable space.

Now, if you try to do a job like this ‘on the cheap’ then you are likely to become a horror story in the newspaper, because when a basement is designed and built incorrectly it can be catastrophic.

So, if you would like to work with the best basement design company in the UK, make sure you get in touch on 01628 826066 or email us.

Iceberg or Mega basements

In a recent article in The Times, they stated that the ‘trend’ for building subterranean pools and nightclubs could be ending. We feel that ‘trend’ is a bit of an odd term; it would imply that everyone is having a mega basement.

In actual fact the majority of basements that are designed and completed in the UK are modest; they are usually added to properties to accommodate growing families who want to stay in the area.

Mega basements or Iceberg basements are extremely rare, only a very small percentage of the total number of basements installed in the UK could be referred to as “mega”.

The Figures

The year 2014 was considered a bit of a peak in the basement industry. This is backed up by figures from Barbour ABI who are construction data specialists. Apparently, there were 3,374 basement-related planning applications submitted that year; a significant portion of these will have had our names on them too!

According to Barbour ABI in 2014 there were 869 basement applications to Kensington & Chelsea Council; in 2020 this had fallen to 54. Similarly, in Westminster, applications fell from 381 to 30 in the same period. If this is true then in 2020, we were responsible for more than a third of applications for Westminster.

So, what does this mean? Well, it could mean a number of things.

Restrictions – yes, the planning process has become more demanding and simply put, they just won’t let you build much in some of these areas.

The last year – the figures from 2020 are fairly misleading. That year is still pretty fresh in everyone’s memory. The Covid-19 pandemic and subsequent lock downs had everyone on pause for much of the year – so it’s worth taking that segment of data with a pinch of salt.

The Economy – is a little less ‘certain’ than in 2014 and so people in general are more wary of spending. Job security has been shaken by the pandemic and Brexit and most of the population are choosing to hunker down.

Government Schemes – many of the people we design basements for are purely looking for extra room. The cost to move will often outweigh the cost to invest and the ROI on a basement is pretty good. The Stamp Duty Holiday in 2020 meant that many people took the opportunity to save up to £15,000 on their move and so fewer home owners were extending their homes in favour of moving all together.

Planning Permission

This boom caused such a stir on a Government level, that not only was Stamp Duty increased but local authorities in the London Boroughs started putting even more restrictions on the development of basement excavations in their residential areas. In fact, by 2015 many London boroughs simply banned any proposed basements featuring more than a single storey.

Yes, this is a pain – BUT it’s not the end of the world. Restrictions are often there to keep everyone safe and to maintain the integrity of the existing communities. We understand that, that’s why it hasn’t really affected our output that much. You see, we know what we are doing; we have had clients come to us who have been declined planning permission when working with other contractors; we take a look and reapply in the correct manner and often have the decision overturned.

Get in Touch

We are here to help answer any questions you might have. If you are thinking about undertaking a basement project, extending your property or having an underground garage installed make sure you give us a call. We are the leading specialists in basement conversions and design. You can call us on 01628 826066 or email us. You can also follow us on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and LinkedIn for all the latest updates.

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