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Archive for November, 2012

Subterranean Development

Moving home can be a nightmare.  Leaving aside finding a suitable location and property and uprooting from neighbourhood, schools and friends, the new home may not provide everything sought.  Remaining in situ and creating additional space for garage, pool or gym may sound very attractive and if one cannot build up or outwards, many take to extending downwards.

Subterranean development, not just for residential purposes, is gaining popularity.  Indeed, the rising number of planning applications involving development below ground has led some councils, including the Royal Borough of Kensington & Chelsea, to revisit planning policies.  Proposals and investigations have included anything from constructing tunnels for transport, underground parking and plant rooms, to space for museums, concert halls and theatres.

As might be anticipated, not everyone welcomes the consequential disruption caused.  Neighbours suffering noise, dust and vibration are up in arms.  In its report to RBK&C, Ove Arup recognises “underground construction will always - inherently and unavoidably - cause some movement to surrounding ground”.  In clay soils, such as those in London, problems of seasonal ground settlement in dry weather and ground heave in wet, are well known.  Additionally, the deepening or stiffening of footings on one side of a party wall can have an adverse effect on the other.

Concerns are increasingly expressed - even within the House of Commons.  It was, however, into the House of Lords that the Subterranean Development Bill was introduced.  Sadly, although there are many who felt it could have been better drafted, being a private member’s bill, it failed to reach the statute books.  It would seem, therefore, that irritated neighbours are left to contemplate the expensive and very uncertain path of a nuisance action in the civil courts seeking an injunction to stop, if they can, disruption caused by development below ground.  Judges never welcome balancing gain and loss of neighbours at war.

If you wish to hear more, why not contact Hatherleigh Training?