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Wednesday, 20 January 2016


If you are free next Tuesday at 6.30pm go along to the Planning Applications Committee meeting and see democracy in action... or not.

A few months ago the Council, with much fanfare, announced a basement policy to control the worst aspects of this pestilence.
The point of it was to stop this sort of thing.

"Two years ago a Mr Fairholme applied for permission to dig a vast basement under his house, 32 Abingdon Villas. This was thrown out by the Council and a scaled back project approved.
Fairholme ignored the Council and went ahead and built the big basement anyway. Now it's completed he has employed Savills to apply for retrospective approval. Savills cozied up to the planning Officers in Hornton Street for a "pre-approval consultation" and got the green light. Officers have now recommended approval of the scheme that they turned down in the first place!!"

So on Tuesday, at 6.30pm in Committee Room, at the Town Hall, the Planning Applications Committee will be asked to agree this extraordinary volte-face.
The liklihood is that the Committee will roll over and do the bidding of their masters, the planners.
If they do it will mark the premature death of the much vaunted 'New' Basement policy.
It shows one thing, if you are rich and can afford Savills, you will win. Note that Savills are also advising the Council on regeneration.....


  1. The Lord Abingdon21 January 2016 at 08:47

    God have mercy on anyone living next or near to the Fairholme's The husband is a rude, bullying market trader made good, and wife Stephanie a fishwife

  2. Says it all. Permissions for sale in the Royal Borough.

  3. K&C urgently needs to review its planning processes. Planning is controversial and needs to be perceived to be "above board" by residents and the electorate. Otherwise democracy is diminished.

    Whatever the truth of this matter, it is wrong to allow consultants like Savills, working for the developer, to have private meetings with planning Officers to find a way of reversing previous planning decisions. It looks bad. And when consultants like Savills are also insiders working for the Council on planning matters, it looks even worse.

    And when a controversial new policy like basements is being implemented, and a developer gets permission to do something and then does something else, it is naïve of the Council to approve this. No matter how trivial the change, a signal goes out that the policy is not for real.

    And when large amounts of money are involved then the use of consultants like Savills to oil the wheals builds a perception that "the law is only for the rich". Which further undermines democracy.

    And all of this breeds the suspicion that backhanders are being paid by developers to planning Officers.

    Perception is everything in politics. Bureaucrats do not understand this. RBKC councillors need to wake up to the fact that there is a problem

    1. The Cabinet Member for planning, Cllr Coleridge, is asleep on the job.

  4. Basement applications are running at more than 400 a year. In the next four years that is nearly 2000 new basements. A huge new market for consultants like Savills, surveyors and builders. It has made builders like Kevin O'Connor (Cranbrook Basements) very rich.

    The economics are compelling. Owners spending £1 million on a new basement get a return of more than 300%. Neighbours endure hell for a couple of years. Hence the good idea of a "basement policy" to try and balance things out.

    The word in the street from consultants like Savills, surveyors and builders is that "K&C is a soft touch. You can push the boundaries. If you build more than was approved and get found out then this can almost certainly be fixed with a retrospective approval.

    The challenge for Councillors is to bring about a perception with these same people along the lines of: "Don't push the boundaries. If you do, the Council will come down on you like a ton of bricks".

    1. The Council need to make an example of one or two violators by requiring them to make things right or cancelling their projects. Make this guy fill in his basement so the dimensions are compliant and the world will hear about it and no one will do it again. Simple, fair, elegant, everyone is happy. Perhaps the Savills consultant does not get his "full fee" in that case, but on balance the situation is solved in a fair way for everyone. The Savills guy can wait to buy his Aston Martin until next year.

  5. This is not an isolated incident. I am aware of another basement where the developer did not follow their approval conditions. The neighbours apparently have their legal team preparing for battle.

    1. It is amazing that the "basement policy" does not require an "Approval Certificate" after completion of work. The certificate based on an inspection by Officers to verify that work proceeded "exactly as approved" (The Councils own words)

      Changes are often required in a building project but the planning aspect of this can be handled by "variation applications" to the Council.

      A simple administrative move like "Completion Certificates" could take enormous heat out of the basement building epidemic

    2. The comment by 12:39 makes complete rational sense. I actually raised a similar concept prior to (and during) the basement consultation and was given "planning nonsense" talk from Bore as to the reasons why it could not be done, none of which made any rational sense. The Council could, and should, do something like this. Perhaps the inevitable fallout of this case will lead to something along these lines.

  6. Someone should tell Hornton Street to make sure there are extra seats. I will most certainly be there to watch this.

  7. Most of the basement cheats get away with their transgressions. But this guy got caught by the speed cameras. Driving fast and recklessly. All that flooding because he dug too deep and collided with the water table.

    As with any speeding offence, now he needs to be dealt with.

    1. more like getting caught with his trousers down

  8. Members of local and HF 38 degrees have been made aware of this event. Let's hope many will attend...


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