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Corbyn backs neighbours in fight against basement

Developer’s plan for ‘eyesore’ garage set to test planning guidelines

24 February, 2017 — By Joe Cooper

Rik Lewis and Christine O’Donnell outside the Japan Crescent building

MP Jeremy Corbyn has backed neighbours who are fighting a basement extension in Crouch Hill.

Mr Corbyn and people living in Japan Crescent fear the move will set an “unwelcome precedent” if permission is granted by councillors.

Soaring property values have led to a steady increase in the number of planning applications for the excavation of basements in Islington and in 2015 the council drew up new planning guidelines, in a Supplementary Planning Document (SPD), aimed at restricting “mega-basements”.

The Town Hall’s policy will be tested on Monday when an application from D4P Developments to demolish a single garage and create a two-storey building with a new basement is put before councillors. D4P paid £200,000 for the derelict building at an auction. Residents say the empty building, which was once used as a garage, is an “eyesore” but fear the noise and disruption a basement excavation would cause.

Rik Lewis, a retired chartered surveyor, said: “Most people are happy with the visible aspect but the basement is the crunch issue.

“We are worried about the impact on the conservation area. It could set a precedent here and across the borough.”

Christine O’Donnell said: “I am concerned about subsidence. I will have to live here while all this disruption is going on.”

A developer wants to replace the garage with a two-storey building and a basement.

Council officers have recommended the application is approved, saying it would have “no significant harm on neighbouring amenity”. The basement excavation would only take up 50 per cent of the site.

Nearly 20 neighbours have written to oppose the move, and Islington North MP Mr Corbyn has backed them, saying he has “serious reservations” about the plans.

“I am told that the developer has failed to consult neighbours, as required in the recently published SPD on basement development,” Mr Corbyn wrote in a letter to the council.

“The excavation would set a precedent for future basement excavations on the street (in the Stroud Green Conservation Area) and would arguably pose a structural threat to neighbouring properties.

“I understand that the neighbours also have some reservations about soundproofing and overlooking, though I repeat that in principle they would welcome a one-bedroomed development that was in keeping with the other properties in the conservation area.”

Tollington ward councillors Richard Watts and Flora Williamson have also objected to the proposals.

“Local residents have rightly raised concerns about whether this proposed development, with a large basement compared to the size of the plot of land, is suitable for this street of mainly terraced houses which don’t have basements,” said Cllr Williamson.

“I am standing with local residents to stop this development, and hopefully allow for a more proportionate and sympathetic development in the future.”

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