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.
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.
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.