New levy on basements to fund enforcement

Income raised from a new Westminster Council levy will pay for a dedicated enforcement team to protect residents during construction by monitoring noise, working hours and truck deliveries.
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.

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.