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PROPERTY / BASEMENTS Traffic management and pavement access can be a crucial part of obtaining planning permission for a basement conversion

NIGEL LEWIS

GOING UNDERGROUND Londoners are digging deep for space. But how difficult are basement conversions to complete?

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asement conversions in on each conversion. This is fast reducing London are at an all-time the number of high-profile basement high as homeowners conversions being completed, including expand their homes rather those undertaken by Foxtons founder Jon than move and face a Hunt, composer Andrew Lloyd-Webber, substantial Stamp Duty bill. actress Nicole Kidman and oligarch Roman Despite increased planning restrictions, Abramovich, many of whom have added up the number of applications to convert to four storeys underneath their houses. basements has doubled over the past two “A lot of the councils are tightening up years which, as builder Billy Heyman of the planning process to try and create as BTL Properties explains, is not surprising. many barriers as possible,” says Simon “It’s a no-brainer, really,” he says. “Our Haycock of Michaelis Boyd Associates. But typical customer is living in a £2m house the second type of basement conversion but to move up the ladder locally usually continues to boom. These are the onerequires a spend of £3.5 plus a Stamp Duty and agent fee bill A basement conversion of a John Nash designed of nearly £400,000.” Grade II listed house in Park Village West off Albany Street in Regent’s Park by Hampstead by Belsize The cost of a basement Architects (020 7482 4420) is much less than that. But getting permission for a basement conversion is getting more difficult as many London borough planning departments crack down on the more ambitious projects. This year Westminster established a ‘sub squad’ team to process complaints about basement conversions, and introduced a tax to be levied

storey dig-downs that are easy to spot outside a home. Usually, an electric conveyor pokes out of a downstairs window, wet clay clattering from the netherworld below into a skip. “The really big projects that you see in the papers are all about having a basement swimming pool or cinema, but most of our work is about freeing up space and making a period property a usable family home,” says Simon Haycock. “Quite often our projects are about moving the utility areas of a house downstairs and therefore freeing up the family areas above.” If you’re about to take the plunge and go big below, there is plenty to think about. Creating a basement from scratch is a significant engineering project and some experts say it can be more complicated than building a new home. But if you can get it right and complete your project, then the benefits of a basement conversion are more than just aesthetic. Trevor Abrahamson, of estate agent Glentree, says that while it costs approximately £300 per foot² to build a basement, it can add between £1,000 and £6,000 per foot² to the value of the property, when complete. u

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