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Friday, 22 November 2013


This is an excellent, ideas laden letter from Doctor Gordon Taylor, chairman of the West London Residents Association.   

West London Residents Association
Chairman  Gordon Taylor  33 Royal Avenue Chelsea SW3 4QE
Secretary  Gordon Stevens  3 Mulberry Walk  SW3 6DZ
Treasurer  Natalie Cutler   70 Holland Park W11 3SL

Karen Buck MP
House of Commons
London  SW1A 0AA

20 11 13

Dear Ms Buck,        Your Bill to regulate the construction and
                                   extension to basements.

Our Association is delighted that you have introduced your Bill regulating Basements and wish you every success in getting it on to the statute book.

I notice that it is some 8 years since we last corresponded.
Then it was with regard to our campaign for the abolition of the Western Extension of the Congestion Charging Zone.

There is a substantial body of evidence from residents living in properties adjoining  these basement developments of the considerable loss of amenity that they have suffered. These include excessive noise, vibration, dust and dirt.
Structural damage to these resident’s  properties has also been frequently reported.

The quality of life of many adjoining residents has been badly affected leading to a stressful existence for them. Perhaps it is not too much to believe that their human right to live peacefully in their homes is being infringed.

Pro-active monitoring of basement site work.

Local councils have, in my view, not been tough enough in using powers under the various Environmental and Health and Safety Acts to ensure that work on site complies with either local authority set standards or appropriate national standards.

Many councils operate a reactive noise and nuisance service which is not adequate to deal with this basement work.

To control basement construction a team of pro-active trained inspectors is needed to constantly monitor each site.

For many years District Surveyors have monitored site compliance with the London Building Regulations.

These Surveyors are, I understand, located in each London borough. It might be possible to expand their training to cover the new proposed role. Some increase in numbers might be required.

Basement Site Plant and Machinery

A major problem with basement construction arises from the noise and vibration caused by site plant and machinery.

To reduce excessive noise and vibration the use of air compressors and their pneumatic tools should be banned as should electrically driven hand tools.

The ban would also reduce the extent of damage to adjacent properties.

Unless the legislation has been altered, Section 60 of the Control of Pollution Act 1974 makes it clear that the local authority can specify the type of plant and machinery which is, or is not, to be used on site.

Under the same section the local authority can also specify the level of noise which may be emitted from the site.

Digging out basements can be done by hand using hand tools.

Listed Buildings

Due to their more fragile construction we agree with the Council of the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea’s proposal that no new basement extension work be permitted under such buildings.

Mammoth Basement Developments

These should be restricted to those properties where the impact on adjoining residents and properties can be controlled to an acceptable level.

Bonds against damage to adjoining properties.

To provide funds for the repair of any damage it is suggested that bonds be provided by the basement building’s owner for the  benefit  of the owners of the affected adjacent properties. These bonds  could be held by solicitors agreed between the parties.

Local councils should be given effective powers to control these basement developments many of which have caused real suffering for adjacent residents.

Yours sincerely

Gordon Taylor  PhD  BSc(Hons) MICE  MIMechE  MIET
Chairman West London Residents Association

cc Sir Malcolm Rifkind, Mark Field, Glenda Jackson, Frank Dobson, Barry Gardiner,  Gareth Thomas, Clive Efford, Andy Slaughter, Greg Hands.



  1. Should have sent it to Karen Buck MP since she is leading the campaign on this issue - to the shame of our own MPs.

  2. But that's to who it was sent

  3. Dr Gordon Taylor is a Hero of RBKC! He told it like it is over the Exhibitionist Road fiasco. He's now turning his formidable guns on the basement development disaster in K & C and beyond. The Council bleats about its inability to take action. Dr Taylor calls their bluff. His approach is both technical and workable. Whether we as individuals have yet suffered from this problem or not; we must back him and the West London Residents Association in its support Karen Buck. Rifkind should hang his head in shame.

  4. It has come to my attention from an unimpeachable source that Sir Malcolm has been persuaded to back the so-far unannounced PMBill put forward by our former MP, Karen Buck. So, can we NOW expect some progress?

  5. Good to see a Resident Association Chairman entering the fray on behalf of residents. Dr Taylor is a fearless and forthright campaigner and K&C needs more like him.

  6. There are a multitude of issues when ALL resident associations should have a common approach. Basements are just one, so why font't they all have a representative umbrella group comprising all members. Its power would be great.
    No more Gold Stars for well behaved associations are not puppies needing a pat.

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