Going Underground – Basement Excavations and Permitted Development Rights

Many planning authorities, particularly London boroughs, are having to deal with an increasing number of ‘digdowns’, as soaring house prices lead homeowners and developers to increase the value of their properties by extending downwards.

It was previously not clear whether residential basement extensions involving significant excavation works required planning permission or whether such works could be lawfully carried out using permitted development rights.  In the absence of guidance, local authorities were taking divergent approaches.

However, in the case of R (Eatherley) v Camden Council 2016, the High Court was asked to consider this controversial question.  The owner of a terraced house in north London had been granted a lawful development certificate in respect of the excavation of a 161m² single-storey basement under the footprint of the 128m² house.  A neighbour challenged the grant of the certificate on the basis that the development was too substantial to amount to permitted development.  The court agreed and quashed the certificate, ruling that the engineering operations constituted a ‘separate activity of substance’  and that Camden Council had failed to consider the nature of the excavation including removal of the ground and soil and the works of structural support.

The judgement has given clarification and much needed guidance to planning authorities. It is likely to lead to an increased number of planning applications in relation to basement projects and more information being required as to the extent of the proposed works.

 

This is not legal advice; it is intended to provide information of general interest about current legal issues.

Share

Anne Bridger

Senior Solicitor, Commercial Property

Anne has extensive experience in property law, both residential and commercial. In recent years, she has specialised in commercial property, particularly landlord and tenant matters....

Senior Solicitor, Commercial Property

Anne Bridger

Anne has extensive experience in property law, both residential and commercial. In recent years, she has specialised in commercial property, particularly landlord and tenant matters.

Her most memorable case involved the sale of Ashdown Forest which included the Five Hundred Acre Wood and Pooh Bridge!

Anne trained with a city firm and joined us here at Hart Brown in 2004.

Head Office

Resolution House
Riverview
Walnut Tree Close
Guildford
Surrey
GU1 4UX

Your Local Office

Guildford - 01483 887766
Cobham - 01932 576789
Cranleigh - 01483 887515
Godalming - 01483 887766
Woking - 01483 887766

Hart Brown Solicitors is the trading name of Hart Brown LLP, registered in England and Wales No. OC 425835 whose registered office is Resolution House, Riverview, Walnut Tree Close, Guildford, GU1 4UX and is authorised and regulated by the Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA) No. 658593. Members: N Maud, T Pearce, D Knapp, R Campbell and P Grimwood, Partners: J Crosby, L Harrhy, J Jupp, J Lamont, V McMurtrie, E Moore, S Osborne, S Powell, G Sanders and E Wiggins.

© Copyright Hart Brown 2019 - All Rights Reserved. VAT registration no. 211372705