Four weeks ago, we were contacted by the RBCK planning officer dealing with one of our projects. A week to go to the determination date and we were advised that the Council would not determine the application. The following reason was offered: the Council has been carrying out a basement policy review.
Policy CL2(g) of the Core Strategy and the Subterranean Development SPD set out the criteria for appropriate basement developments. Policy CL7 is a proposed revision to the development plan which will expand upon and replace present policy CL2(g) and in due course supersede the Subterranean Development SPD. It sets out more stringent criteria for basement development and would make the requirements part of the development plan. It is now at an advanced stage of preparation following the Examination in Public of the content of the policy in September of this year, and in accordance with the NPPF is gaining weight as a material consideration.
The Council is now awaiting the Inspector’s report following the Public Examination into the proposed basements policy. The report is expected in late December. Until the report is received, the Council will not be granting permission for development proposals which include subterranean development, and such proposals will not be reported to Committee, unless there are site specific material considerations which make this appropriate.
So what are the new draft core policies and what is going on?
A link to the Basements Publication Planning Policy (12 February to 26 March 2014) can be found here
During the Examination in Public, there were a few amendments suggested to the wording of the policy. Click here to read these amendments.
In summary, the new Policy will just add a further layer or reports and costs to applicants. Camden Council’s Basement Impact Assessment (BIA) is more onerous than the current Basement Policy of RBKC.
In addition to the current application requirements, a hydrology report will be required, there will be a reduction on the size of the basement under the garden and will limit the opportunity to create double storey basements. The issue now is what is going to happen to non-determined applications and what choices do you have.
Having discussed this with planning consultants and RBKC the choice is not great.
You could undertake a Householder Appeal which can take 12 weeks or longer. The Planning Inspectorate will also take into account the new Policies so the chance of winning is not great. We would suggest that this is worthwhile as it is free to appeal although your agent may charge you ( we won’t charge extra to our existing clients!) for handling this Appeal. The other option is to resubmit a new application in line with the new Policies. The issue here is that the policy wording has not yet been fully agreed so it is questionable whether the Hydrology Report will adequately respond to the policy requirements. These reports are not cheap.
RBKC have stated that applications that are currently with them will be determined in late December and will likely be Conditioned to cover the requirements of the new policy. The approach by RBKC has caught many people by surprise and caused a great deal of stress to clients who have had to restructure their finances or incur additional consultant fees. Like many of our clients, we would have thought it more appropriate to have allowed the current applications to be dealt with under the current basement policy and to have set a deadline for this.