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Monday, 1 October 2012


This letter, from a resident with much property expertise, to the Head of Planning is highly relevant to the current debate about basement excavations and the impact they have on adjacent and near neighbours. 

Monday,24 September 2012

Dear Mr Bore 

Your response of today's date just does not do it for me. What proof do you have that the site notice was genuinely erected, and stayed there ?

Whilst thirteen 'consultation letters' were purportedly sent out, given the controversy, distress and damage basement builds, encouraged wholesale by RBK&C  Planning Dept, in cavalier style over the last ten years, have caused, do you not find it strange that: "No consultation notices were received" ?

What kind of of consultation process is that, given your own, and RBK&C's own current intense concern over its cavalier acquiescence to the said notorious basement builds ? Your department has issued a belated 16,000 addressee panic 'consultative' "RBKC Basement Survey" (Penelope Tollit,
Head of Policy and Design). What use is that now ? As regards the 52 Chepstow Villas basement build, where will you be when things go wrong - as they certainly DID when the/RBK&C's swimming pool planning policy was implemented ?

When in a hole stop digging. It is clear from the traditional institutional obfuscatory responses,we are getting to the basement build issue promoted by RBK&C Planning Department, that no
pragmatic or sympathetic response can be expected.

You have chosen to sweep under the carpet the real issues - namely the menace, inconvenience, danger and distress that your department's passing of so many basement builds in the borough
has caused/is causing to unacceptable high rates/local taxes paying  residents - the worst example of RBK&C's profligacy being the £30million utterly wasted on 'pedestrianising'  Exhibition Road/Prince's Gate.

Clearly we will have to consider all the legal options - both individual, and institutional negligence,
together with abrogation, and dereliction of duties.

Yours sincerely,

Mirek Malevski 


  1. Another steamed up resident. Cockell is really "doing it" for the Conservative Party with the isolated and disconnected administration that he has built in Hornton Street. All dedicated to his personal vanity and ego.

  2. Mr Bore is a prisoner of the controls and values of the system that he works for. He can either do what is required of him or quit. The Germans had a similar problem sixty years ago.

    The only solution is to clear out Cockell and build a new culture in Hornton Street. A new Administration that is connected up with voters, represents their interests, and understands their concerns

  3. Mr Malevski's letter expresses vividly the frustration and alienation that many residents of K&C feel. Too many Councillors have forgotten that their job is to do what is right and to represent the majority. Officers fall into line with this corrupted Administration, as they are required to do.

    Of course there are one or two exceptions. Cllr Dent Coad and Cllr Freeman are two examples. But of course they are demonised by the Leadership

    1. Cllr Dent Coad is indeed one of the few who act with integrity and she is indeed one of the few who act with integrity and is protrayed as being slightly deranged for her trouble but I always found her to be beyond reproach. I could say the same about Pat Healey, Judith Blakeman, Barbara Cambell, Doreen Weatherhead (when she know what day it is), Victoria Borwick, Fiona Buxton - when she stands up for her beliefs which isn't all the time, Anthony Coates but he's barely involved these days.

      Just based on 15 years experience of working with them.

  4. Why is it taking so long for the idiotic basement champion and ex Goldman Sachs Banker, Cllr Loud Mouth Read, to be deselected? The heavies in Earls Court Ward are determined to get rid of the pest

  5. There seems to be a general misunderstanding of the Planning system. Mr Bore’s consultation documents lay it out at length and genteely – let me be brutally brief. As I understand it (I am open to correction):

    The Planning system is laid down by Parliament in the Planning Acts.
    Local Authorities do not act off their own bat – they act in accordance with the Planning Acts.
    If they don’t they are challengeable at law and liable for damages.
    ‘Planning’ is precisely that – it concerns itself strictly with whether the finished form of a planned development should be allowed – it is primarily concerned with visual matters.
    It is not concerned with the process of implementing the proposal – indeed a proposal which was impossible to build could be given planning consent.
    The process of building, the relationship with the neighbours, and the safety of the construction, are governed by other Acts of Parliament, with their own consents, of no concern to the Planning system.
    As a remnant of the mediaeval feudal system of land ownership there is still the general presumption that the owner of land has a right to do with it whatever they wish – ‘An Englishman’s Home Is His Castle’.
    The Planning System may attempt to tinker round the edges of the legislation to widen its remit somewhat, but the fundamentals are as above.

    I would make some comments:
    Anything can be built safely and expeditiously (if one spends sufficient money).
    It is legally accepted that neighbours must endure a certain amount of temporary inconvenience during construction (the ‘Englishman’s Castle’ point).
    There is no legal requirement to send out ‘consultation letters’ – that the Borough does so is a courtesy – they can hardly therefore be liable if the process goes wrong occasionally.
    No reliance can be put on ‘I didn’t receive the letter’, as every study of witness reliability can attest. It would be unfeasibly expensive to use Recorded Delivery.

    One can’t help feeling that there is an element of envy in the protests about subterranean development – this is the rich being inconvenienced by the super-rich. They are used to inconveniencing every one below them (who just have to put up with it) – suddenly it comes as a nasty shock to discover that they can be inconvenienced themselves by people richer than they are.

  6. "Finally:
    One can’t help feeling that there is an element of envy in the protests about subterranean development – this is the rich being inconvenienced by the super-rich. They are used to inconveniencing every one below them (who just have to put up with it) – suddenly it comes as a nasty shock to discover that they can be inconvenienced themselves by people richer than they are."
    That is the most extraordinarily silly supposition


  7. Mr Bore inherited a dysfunctional public consultation system, but has failed to address the issue. For decades the system has been manipulated for the benefit of certain applicants. Consultee lists are drawn up, but the letters are not sent. This goes far beyond underground development.

    Among the more infamous recent examples was an application to turn the Listed Old Laundry in Colville (State) School into a private nursery. Of 100 supposed consultees, just one neighbouring resident commented. Not one parent objected. The Chair of Governors was married to a senior RBKC councillor.

    Former Cllr Cunningham emailed Planning that since only one person had commented, the application could be granted under delegated officer powers. Permission was duly granted.

    The story was that the private nursery needed the Old Laundry because it was due to be evicted. In fact the nursery's owner was to evict his business from his own house in Oxford Gardens.

    When the scandal broke, RBKC claimed to have opposed the plan all along. The idea was dropped, but has recently been revived. This time it will apparently benefit the Colville School children.

    Cllr Cunningham stepped down, but it is thought the Chair of School Governors remains in post. The email is available on RBKC Planning's website. It is hoped that it remains so.

    There are many similar local examples of the failure of RBKC Planning's public consultations. The same is doubtless true across the Borough.

  8. Not every resident of Kensington & Chelsea is "rich;" but even they are entitled to enjoy their homes without having to spend years fighting their neighbours over the damage caused by subterranean developments. Residents are angry because each new "super-basement" damages several other properties.

    It's not rocket science. K & C sits on clay, which constantly moves. Traditional houses sit lightly on it, with shallow foundations. These even allow entire terraces to move freely without damage.

    When a rigid and very heavy concrete and steel basement is inserted into the clay, instead of moving "with" its neighbours, the new structure moves "against" them. This movement causes serious and ongoing damage to nearby homes, including detached houses. The water table is also disturbed, causing flooded basements in "other people's" homes.

    RBKC cannot continue to ignore the anger of the majority of residents. It must act now to protect them, including changes in Parliamentary legislation.

    1. This is a very definitive and informed statement that is very easy to understand. Why on earth does the Town Hall and the planners not act on it?

  9. Too many Councillors are focused on trying to get big SRA's, sucking up to Cockell, lusting after being Mayor, trying to get into Westminster and trying to get office.

    There is an urgent need for these people to come down to earth and remember that they are elected to represent their constituents and get involved in more mundane matters of life like housing, nuisance, floods and basements. If this does not appeal to them then its time to move on

  10. The problem of the water table level is highly important. Some friends had not only to put up with months of disruption and noise while their neighbours dug out a basement but have since had to put up with the constant racket of the pump which had to be put in to keep the water out of the basement and neighbouring properties. Some of my neighbours tried I think to put in a wine cellar - but quickly gave up when the hole, then only three feet deep, began to fill with water.


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