Hertsmere Council publishes guidance for building underground

PUBLISHED: 12:12 26 October 2016 | UPDATED: 12:12 26 October 2016

Councillor Harvey Cohen
Picture: Blake Ezra Photography

Councillor Harvey Cohen Picture: Blake Ezra Photography

© Blake Ezra Photography Ltd. 2012.www.blakeezraphotography.com.+44 (0) 208 7365868

The council has offered Hertsmere residents advice on building basements in their properties.

Proposals clarifying what is acceptable around the design, size, proportion, access and other characteristics of basements in new or existing homes, as well as their impact on rear gardens, trees and car parks, have been put forward in Hertsmere Borough Council’s updated Draft Planning and Design Guide.

A public consultation on the revised document, which is part of the council’s planning guidance for all forms of development across the borough, is currently under way. Comments can be made until Monday, November 21,

The fashion for ‘iceberg homes’ in London, which can sometimes be as much as three or four storeys deep, has made national news in recent years. Underground building projects in Hertsmere tend to be smaller-scale but the council has seen an increase in planning applications involving basements.

Councillor Harvey Cohen, portfolio holder for planning and localism, said: “We know that basements can be a solution when you need more space, but don’t have room to extend above ground and don’t want to change the external appearance of your 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.”

Further clarification on the council’s approach to taller buildings is also contained within the draft design guide, as well as guidance on the demolition and replacement of buildings in Conservation Areas, changes to guidelines on overlooking distances between buildings, extra clarification on appropriate roof types, and new restrictions for gates in front of properties so as to prevent them from appearing overbearing or increasing the threat of crime.

Councillor Cohen said: “A lot of these proposed changes have been made to take account of the introduction of new national and local policies, but we’re also making them in response to changes in the kinds of developments we are seeing in Hertsmere.

“The design guide is one of a number of key technical documents used by officers, councillors and applicants when submitting, considering and determining planning applications.

“That’s why we’re asking for as many people as possible to give their comments and feedback on these proposals so we can be sure the document is as relevant and up-to-date as it can be.”

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