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Kensington Palace basement plans angering neighbours

Last month, Historic Royal Palaces submitted plans for a two-storey “mega-basement” under the Grade II Orangery at Kensington Palace. 

Yet, the plans have not gone over well with neighbours as the basement would be in strict violation of the rules set in 2014 banning “mega-basements” after a slew of planning applications came in.

When the laws came into effect, councillor Tim Coleridge said: “Basements have been the single greatest planning concern our residents have expressed to us in living memory.”

A planning application to Kensington and Chelsea Council last week is asking for a 50m-long basement to free up the palace suites which are currently the offices of around 100 working staff so that the staff of the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge and Prince Harry will have a place to go.

The extra three floors of space will cover over 1,500 sq m, two below ground and one above underneath the Grade 1-listed Orangery. The expansion will also be home to ceremonial dresses from the Royal collection.

The 65-year-old, Donald Cameron who has been using the park for 35 years told The Telegraph: “This is an historic building and should not be disturbed. There can be no justification for a double basement. The Orangery is a central feature of the park which should be maintained as a peaceful facility for Londoners.

 “The planning department seems to have been bedazzled by courtiers when giving pre-application advice.”

Council has so far received 14 letters of objection, including that of Patrick Hope-Falkner.

“Is everyone cowed by the involvement of a Royal Palace? No one is above the law. And the law in RBKC is subject to CL7 and the latest SPD (Supplementary Planning Document) on basements,” said Mr Hope-Falkner

“Only if the planning department and local planning authority want to drive a coach and horses through their own regulations and guidelines, should this application be allowed to go any further.

“It would be a traumatic development to a listed building and a blatant defiance of the two storey rule to allow it.”

Neighbour Marion Gettleson also objects the basement plans: “The Orangery has long been a much loved and visited feature of a famous architectural and historical grouping.

“As such, the property should be respected and left alone. The disturbance caused by the excavations etc will cause considerable harm to the surrounding area for a long time.

“While somewhat less venerable, the immediate neighbourhood is also of great architectural, historical and political significance.

“It is very much hoped that other arrangement will be made for the proposed uses for a new basement on this site.”

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