Friday 30 September 2016

Kensington has become a 'hellhole' with noisy basement extensions - Brian May

Published 11/05/2016 | 15:26

The musician has hit out at residents in his plush residential street for blighting the area with noise and causing
The musician has hit out at residents in his plush residential street for blighting the area with noise and causing "unbearable disruption" to his quality of life

Queen guitarist Brian May claims he is being forced out of his home in the exclusive Kensington area of London by the misery of basement extensions turning it into a "hellhole".

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The musician has hit out at residents in his plush residential street for blighting the area with noise and causing "unbearable disruption" to his quality of life.

In an open letter to the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea, May writes that over the decade his "oasis" has been shattered by the "unreasonable" building schemes.

He says the use of piling rigs, massive removal of earth and deployment of huge machinery has resulted in intolerable noise, dust, polluting fumes and a loss of privacy.

The guitarist highlights examples of underground extensions in his street, and says he anticipates more.

A series of posts on his website detail the "misery" and "stress" he and his wife Anita Dobson, along with fellow residents, have endured for almost a decade.

In a post called "Basement Building Hell can Kill You" - an apparent play on the title of his solo release, Too Much Love Will Kill You - May says the renovations have left "anger inside me, frustration, feelings of being abused".

"And although I've occasionally let out a cry of something like 'Basement Building Bastards', mostly this feeling of powerlessness in the face of an enemy that hides behind planning permissions has been bottled up."

May suggests that by granting planning permission for individuals to build basements, the council is ignoring the wellbeing of other residents.

The musician asks the council to refuse all future planning applications, adding: "In the coming months, I will not be backing off an inch in the fight against the Basement Building Barbarians. I will be battling on, for Common Decency, and the quality of life of the remaining residents.

"But I may do it from a home where I don't wake up to being persecuted every day of the week."

May explains that after working hard to buy the home he dreamed of one day owning, he and Dobson are now planning to leave London, having reached "breaking point".

"Kensington truly has become a Hellhole. You only have to walk around it to see.

"We will now be seeing more and more decent people quitting in disgust, in search of a decent place to live," he said.

On Tuesday the council said it has the "toughest basement development policy in the country" thanks to new powers ensuring that all basements must receive planning permission.

Until recently, homeowners in Kensington and Chelsea had freedoms from central Government known as 'permitted development rights' which allowed them to build a basement under the footprint of their home without applying for planning permission.

Last April the council made 'an Article 4 Direction' which came into effect last month and now all basements have to go down the planning permission route.

Councillor Tim Coleridge, the Royal Borough's Cabinet Member for Planning Policy, said: "To ensure that all future basement development conforms with that policy, we needed this Article 4 Direction. With this in place, our toolkit is complete and we can now ensure that all future basement development is sensible and proportionate."

Press Association

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