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Rich London homeowners face paying £8,000 'tax' to dig mega-basements

Posted on 02 September 2016. Source: Evening Standard

Rich London homeowners face paying £8,000 'tax' to dig mega-basements

Wealthy London homeowners who plan to dig underground extensions are to be hit by Britain’s first “basement tax” in a fresh crackdown on “anti-social” iceberg homes.

Residents in Westminster will have to pay an average levy of £8,000 to secure planning permission for the often hugely unpopular subterranean excavations under the new rules.

The money raised will pay for a dedicated basement enforcement team of 15 officials who will moniter whether construction work complies with restrictions on noise, working hours and number of truck deliveries.

The so called “sub squad” will also act as a point of contact for complaints about neighbours who are carrying out excavations.

The move follows a huge surge in the number of planning applications for vast basements, some with facilities such as swimming pools, saunas, gyms and cinema rooms over the past decade.

But planning experts who have advised on basement development said the new rules could be counterproductive

Daniel Farrand, a managing associate at law firm Mishcon de Reya, said: It is difficult to argue against the principle of a council working harder to ensure that its rules and standards are followed but Westminster will have to be careful when tightening its standards.

"Beyond a certain point, the cost of marginal gains in noise reduction can be huge. Reduced working hours have to, by simple mathematics, result in longer build periods and increased costs of holding the property while it generates no income.

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