Petition to: consult all residents of Westminster on whether a restriction of one level only should be applied to all basement developments throughout Westminster.

This petition is now closed, as its deadline has passed.

We the undersigned petition Westminster City Council to consult all residents of Westminster on whether a restriction of one level only should be applied to all basement developments throughout Westminster. More details

Petition update from the council, 14 August 2013

Dear Messrs. Coburn, Williams and Zommer

Petition: Basement Development

I acknowledge receipt of your petition seeking the establishment of a planning policy to restrict basements to one level.

I would advise that officers in City Planning are currently working on a new planning policy on basements for Westminster. Work on developing this policy started in 2010 and full public consultation was undertaken on two drafts of basements policy as part of the City Management Plan in 2011 and again in early 2012. Both drafts included a proposal to limit the depth of residential basement extensions to one storey. To address comments from residents received during these consultations, the Council commissioned Alan Baxter’s Associates to prepare detailed technical evidence in relation to basements and the draft policy is now being revised.

This revised policy will form part of the emerging ‘Local Plan’. Consultation on this is scheduled for early autumn 2013, after which the draft policy will be amended to reflect any comments received. The adoption of any new planning policy has to follow a process prescribed by central government and we are, therefore, required to undertake a further round of formal consultation on the final version of the full Local Plan, after which it will be considered by a planning inspector at an Examination in Public. As such any policy on basements is unlikely to be formally adopted until early 2015.

I would also advise that all new planning policies must be based on up to date and robust evidence and comply with legislation and we will have to demonstrate there are sound planning reasons for any limits placed on basement extensions. The soundness of any such proposal will be tested at the Examination in Public.

Given the length of the process to adopt formal planning policy, an interim guidance note on basements is also currently being prepared, which is due for public consultation in September 2013, with publication scheduled for later this year. Interim guidance does not replace formal planning policy but provides advice both for applicants for basement development and local residents affected by such works. In essence it aims to:

• Explain when a planning application is required and what information you will need to submit.

• Explain the current policy framework and how planning applications for basement development will be assessed in relation to this, including circumstances when basement development may be unacceptable.

• Provide advice on the other regimes used to control basement development and other useful information and contacts.

This guidance is primarily for householders affected by, or submitting an application for a basement extension to existing residential properties. The general principles will also be relevant to a range of sites, including some commercial properties, particularly where these occupy original residential dwellings or are immediately adjacent to residential properties in residential areas.

If you have any further queries, please contact the LDF team on 0207 641 2503, email:

Yours sincerely

Rosemarie MacQueen
Strategic Director, Built Environment

More details from petition creator

Basement excavations are a growing problem across Westminster, and at present there is no restriction on the number and extent of basement excavations in the borough. Many residents are very disappointed that Westminster Council has so far decided not to engage with residents and develop a policy as has been done by other boroughs.

Current signatories

Westminster Liberal Democrats, the petition creator, joined by:

  • 258 offline signatures