Basement Review Draft policy and other measures for public consultation

Appendix B: Alternative Options

In coming to the draft policies set out in Draft Policy CF7, the Council considered, and rejected, a number of alterative policies. These are set out below.

Not amend the existing policy

B.1 The Core Strategy was adopted in December 2010. Whilst the intervening period has seen the whole scale re-writing government guidance through the National Planning Policy Guidance this does not render the existing policy out of date.

B.2 However, two further years of basement construction across the Borough have highlighted that the policies (and associated procedures) have not always have been as effective as intended. In addition research commissioned by the Council illustrates that some provisions of the existing policy should be updated. It is, therefore, now timely to review the policies used and the procedures associated with their effective implementation.

Resist the creation of basements within the curtilage of a listed building

B.3 The Council will resist the creation of a basement beneath a listed building as such proposals, in all but in the most exceptional cases, harm the historic integrity, scale and layout of the original building. The same cannot necessarily be said for the excavation within the garden of a listed building. If sensitively designed, it is possible that the integrity and character of the listed building will not be harmed

Resist all basement development within a conservation area

B.4 The Council is of the view that basement development will not necessarily have a detrimental impact on the character and appearance of the conservation area in which it lies. Proposals must therefore be assessed on their merits, and a 'blanket ban' would not be appropriate

 Resist demolition which is carried out to assist in the implementation of a basement development

B.5 The Courts have made it clear that it is only "substantial demolition" of a building in a conservation area that is not listed that requires consent. As such it is beyond a Local Planning Authority's remit to resist all demolition within a conservation area. The Council has the appropriate policies in place to assess applications for demolition when consent is required. Policy CL3 of the Core Strategy remains relevant, stating that the Council will resist substantial demolition unless it can be demonstrated that the part of the building makes no positive contribution to the character of the area, or if a scheme of redevelopment has been approved.

B.6 Planning permission is not required for any demolition outside of a conservation area, unless relating to a building that is listed.

Set a limit of, for example 50%, as to theextent of development beneath a garden which will be permitted, in terms of visual impact/ opportunity for tree planting in the future.

B.7 The limit of excavation beneath a garden proposed within the draft Core Strategy relates largely to the need for effective sustainable urban drainage. It also takes account of the provision of undeveloped space that may be suitable for mature trees in the future. As such this limit is not primarily concerned with the direct visual impact of the external parts of a basement, the Council choosing to control the undesirable 'urbanising' effect of such features by requiring sensitive design and location near the rear of the building. Ultimately a qualitative assessment will be made by the Council as to what the impact of roof lights and the like will have upon the property, its garden and upon the wider area.

B.8 An alternative approach would be to introduce a figure with the inference that the visual impact any basement (be this direct or indirect) is likely to be acceptable as long as, for example, 50% of the garden remains undeveloped. This approach has the benefit of offering a degree of clarity for both those who want a basement and those living in the vicinity. There is however a danger that light wells and other such features may be permitted where the 'rule' is met, but where the impact is harmful.