First deep basements under Highbury homes cause ‘real concerns’

Cllr Russell outside the development in Canning Road

Cllr Russell outside the development in Canning Road - Credit: Archant

The first deep basements under houses in Islington are causing chaos and a potential shift in town hall policy.

Four new homes in Canning Road, Highbury, are set to have basements dug one-and-a-half floors deep underground – the bottom rooms will have no natural daylight and are expected be used for things like cinema rooms.

But people living in the area, and the local councillor, say the scale of the job is just too big for the area.

John Begg, who lives in Canning Road, said: “They are completely out of keeping with character of the street and the development is much to big for this kind of road.

“When they use the digger as a hammer you can feel the vibrations on all the way across the street. But now permission has been granted there is very little we can do.

“I think the council now accepts it should change its policy on deep basements, but it’s too late for us.”

Cllr Caroline Russell, representing Highbury East which covers Canning Road, said: “These deep basements involve complex construction which is extremely disruptive.

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“People are coming to me worried about the danger posed by lorries that have failed to stick to agreed routes and regularly perform dangerous reversing manoeuvres in adjoining roads.

“Then there are the very real concerns for the structural integrity of homes adjoining the deep excavation. People are already reporting significant cracks.”

She added: “The crazy thing is that if land values were not so ridiculously high, there would be no incentive for developers to dig so deep and cause so much disruption.”

Cllr Martin Klute, who chaired the Islington Council planning committee which passed the development, said: “There wasn’t a lot we could do because the council didn’t have much in the way of policy.

“We have recently had a meeting about them and we are against any basements that prejudice ecology, the water table and so on.

“It’s all to do with housing value – it didn’t use to be worth doing financially, so our policy was quite soft. But now house prices gone up so much , it’s something we are looking at.

“We may have still have given permission if we had a policy in place, but we would have looked at the plans in more technical detail.”