The first of its kind in the UK, the levy is being drawn as part of the council’s new Code of Construction Practice, which clearly sets out best practice for building sites such as basements. The code will also be rolled out over the coming months to cover larger developments in the city.
“It is right that those who want to build basements should contribute to this new service, which will work to help mitigate the negative impacts. “We support the right kind of growth and are not against all basement development, but they must be carried out in a way that is considerate to local residents and the environment.”
“We are protecting local residents, many of whom have found the explosion of basement and other development in recent years difficult to live near during their extensive construction period."
Councillor Robert Davis MBE DL, Westminster City Council Deputy Leader and Cabinet Member for the Built Environment
New rules include planning controls limiting basements to a single storey and no more than 50% of total garden land.
The ‘subterranean squad’ will:
- take a degree of oversight and control, for example making sites coordinate their deliveries and reduce the cumulative impact on residents
- check that developers are keeping neighbours informed for instance via newsletters or site meetings
- enforce stricter working hours so as to avoid noisy works at inconvenient times such as Saturday mornings
- provide a point of contact for residents with complaints – with the power to enforce against overly noisy sites under statutory powers
- monitor the level and impacts of traffic to sites
- also police development sites of over 10 residential units, or over 1000m2 commercial floorspace
The new powers will only apply to basements which gained planning permission from August 2016 onward, and other major development schemes from September.