Islington planning application

Keith is currently advising on a planning application for a lateral roof level extension in Islington. "This is an interesting project and I am pleased to be working in a north London borough for the first time. That said, the policies of this local planning authority are very similar to those of other London boroughs. So I'm enjoying the research but the planning terrain is very familiar" said Keith.

RBKC reveals all in major change to Pre-Application Policy

The Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea has just issued this press release which represents a major change to established pre-application policy. This will affect all those who submit pre-applications in the borough from March 2016 and so will be of interest to developers, architects, agents, planning consultants and householders alike. There was no prior consultation with stakeholders before this was announced.

Royal Borough's planners' advice to be made public

As part of its commitment to transparency the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea has announced that from March 2016 it will routinely publish any advice planning officers, or the Architectural Appraisal Panel, has given to an applicant about a development proposal before the application was made. The Council is thought to be the first in the country to open its files in this way.

The Council offers a popular advice service ( to those who are considering making a planning application. The advice is generally confidential between the Council and the customer, but can be published following a request under the Freedom of Information Act or Environmental Information Regulations once a related planning application is made. The advice will now be published automatically once a planning application is made without someone having to make a request under that legislation.

Councillor Tim Coleridge, the Royal Borough’s Cabinet Member for Planning Policy, said: "The Royal Borough is already streets ahead of many other councils in the way it publishes planning application information on its website and this is another step in our commitment to being transparent. Everyone will be able to see the advice our officers have provided, how they have fought to get improvements to development proposals and how they have encouraged applicants to engage with those who might be affected.”

At a Planning Committee meeting on 14 October 2014 Kensington & Chelsea Councillors instructed planning officers to accord the new basement policy greater weight as emerging policy in determining planning applications for subterranean developments. As a result applications for subterranean developments are not being determined until the decision letter on the new policy is received from the Planning Inspectorate. Only those applications which do not meet the requirements of the current policy and the new revised policy are being determined and refused.

A letter from the Planning Inspectorate on the new revised policy is expected on or about 20 December 2014. This will state whether the revised policy is deemed to be sound or not.

Update on RBKC Basement Policy

Kensington & Chelsea Council submitted its draft policy on basement development to the Secretary of State for examination on 29 April 2014. All planning applications for basement development which have been submitted but not yet determined will be assessed against the existing policies in the Core Strategy and the existing SPD until the Inspector’s report has been received.

The timetable for examination is set independently of the Council by the Planning Inspectorate. However informed opinion points to a decision in late summer/early autumn, after an examination in public has taken place.

So what are the implications if the Planning Inspector judges RBKC’s basement policy to be sound after reviewing the evidence base and considering representations?

  • Weight is likely to be accorded to this emerging policy in assessing all basement applications in advance of formal adoption by the Council. This would include those planning applications submitted prior to the Inspector’s report being published but not determined before publication.
  • The extent of basement excavation would be restricted to no more than 50% under the garden or open part of the site and limits the depth of excavation to a single storey in most cases. (Currently the policy allows excavation up to 85% under the garden). The extent of basements will be measured by Gross External Area (GEA). Sub-division of a single storey basement development to create additional floors would be prohibited.
  • Where a basement has already been implemented following the grant of planning permission or the exercise of permitted development rights, the policy does not allow further basement floors or extensions that would exceed 50% of the garden or open part of the site.
  • Basements under listed buildings would be resisted by this policy. This would include the extension of an original basement, cellar or vault.
  • On larger sites basements of more than one storey and greater than half the garden area or open part of the site may be permitted in certain circumstances. These will generally be new developments located in a commercial setting or of the size of an entire or substantial part of an urban block.

The document submitted to the Secretary of State can be accessed via the RBKC planning website.

Two Grade 2 listed houses in SW3 are about to be upgraded as a result of Keith’s involvement in gaining planning permission. One property will benefit from a lift at the rear and a basement extension, whilst the other will benefit from a new rear extension and a basement development. Speaking about the latter property Keith said ‘the old rear extension was visually prominent and completely out of keeping with this fine house. Obtaining planning permission was crucial for removing this eyesore and replacing it with an extension more in keeping with the parent building. This will allow an internal reconfiguration of space which will be more coherent and legible for family use. The properties and the Conservation Area will be enhanced as a result.

Keith was successful recently in gaining planning permission for a client with a Grade 2 listed property close to Sloane Square. This development included the creation of a new basement at the rear of the property, a closet wing extension and internal alterations. Keith advised the client on architectural services, structural engineering services and the requirement to retain a heritage consultant. He made recommendations on the basis of previous work and this led to the firms recommended being appointed. Keith said that ‘this was a complex project made easier by a talented team of professionals working closely and productively together to realise this positive result.

In November 2013 Keith secured planning permission for a client in Brondesbury in the London Borough of Brent. This involved the creation of two new side extensions which enabled a complete reconfiguration of space at ground floor level. Keith said ‘this project was very well planned from the outset and the client was delighted by the positive outcome’. It is worthy of note that this grant of planning permission followed a refusal of permission prior to Keith’s involvement.


For a temporary period of 2 years from 31 May 2013 HM Government has relaxed planning legislation in the following circumstances,

  • No planning permission required for development of any A use class premises to A1, A2 or A3.
  • No need for planning permission for development from B1 to A1, A2 or A3, except where the local planning authority has been given a total or partial exemption by HM Government. This relaxation does NOT include mixed use schemes or where the floor space involved is 150 square metres or more.
  • There is a requirement to inform the local planning authority of any development now not requiring prior planning permission during this two year period.
  • There is a possibility that a local planning authority may require some premises to revert to their original use at the end of the two year period. However, any enforcement action pursued would have to be evidenced based, proportionate and reasonable in the circumstances.
  • Applicants or architects are advised to approach individual local planning authorities in the first instance to clarify whether HM Government has given them an exemption in respect of the B1 to A use class provisions. The Royal Borough of Kensington & Chelsea is believed to be the only local planning authority which has secured a borough wide exemption from HM Government in this respect.

Latest on basement consultation in RBKC

The consultation on subterranean development in Kensington & Chelsea continues apace. The planning department is consulting on options which will inform future policy. At present basement extensions can be constructed under up to 85% of the garden area. In an effort to resist large subterranean developments RBKC wants to reduce that to 75% and some residents would like to see even tougher restrictions. In fact where there are concerns regarding hydrology and the ground conditions pertaining in some localities the extent of permitted development might be as low as 50%.

Current plans envisage a Planning Inspector judging the soundness of this new subterranean policy in September/October 2013. If it judged to be sound RBKC can take this emerging policy into account in determining planning applications with immediate effect. For this reason Keith believes that those considering a basement extension should act now rather than wait. He stands ready to assist with planning applications.

Planning rules to be relaxed in attempt to stimulate the economy

On 5th September the Government announced an emergency year-long free for all for house extensions. Whilst at present homeowners can build extensions up to 3 metres from the rear wall of their property under permitted development rights, the new measures will allow rear extensions of up to 6 metres for terraced properties and 8 metres for detached properties without the need for planning permission. The proposals are subject to a short one month consultation period. They are based upon the belief that the planning system is slow and cumbersome with 8 weeks required to process most applications by local planning authorities and 13 weeks for applications in respect of larger proposed developments. Included in the announcement was plans to allow businesses to expand their shops by up to 100 metres and industrial units by up to 200 metres. There is also a proposal for the temporary removal of the requirement for developers to include affordable social housing so long as the planned housing is for rent rather than sale.

As ever the devil will be in the detail. Local authorities are likely to object to the measures as without the requirement for planning permission they will be concerned that the design of extensions could be inappropriate and out of character. Moreover, some applicants may try to exceed the amount allowed and without planning control the local authority may not even know of the developments taking place. They are likely to press for primary legislation in respect of the proposed changes whereas the Government for reasons of expediency may wish to proceed by statutory instrument. All will be revealed in the fullness of time.

Roof terrace success

Never give up! Keith has just secured planning permission for a client in Gunter Grove, Chelsea. This is for a roof terrace at main roof level and a rear extension. A similar application had previously been refused and then lost at appeal. Working closely with the client a revised planning application was submitted. The roof housing that had been part of the previous application was dropped in favour of a discreet roof hatch in the new application. The moral of the story is to learn lessons from setbacks, think creatively and never give up! Have you got a similar project in mind where Keith could help?

Mews News

Keith is currently retained as a planning conusltant by a client in a mews in South Kensington who wishes to replace historic garage use at ground floor level with office accommodation and to extend the amount of residential accommodation. Because the mews is commercial in nature, Kensington and Chelsea Council are protective over such planning applications. It is therefore imperative that the planning application does not offend policy but that symapthetic development can still take place to enhance the property and adapt it to the demands of a growing family.

The planning issues to be addressed in this application relate to viability, subterranean policies of the local authority and matters concerned with design and conservation.