UK's longest-running basement row could continue for years

The massive hole created by the basement extension.
The massive hole created by the basement extension.

Residents of a Kensington square have been told that their eight years of disruption from a 'mega-basement' extension could go on for several years more.

The Brompton Square home at the centre of the row was owned by convicted conman Achilleas Kallakis, who embarked on a massive basement extension - set to feature a swimming pool, spa, cinema and car lift.

But workers downed tools in 2008, leaving only a massive hole; and in 2011, after Kallakis was jailed, the property was seized by receivers and sold for £28 million to an unnamed owner, believed to be a Dubai-based businessman.

Now, locals have been stunned to discover that the situation could still take years to resolve.

While a new planning application was approved by Kensington & Chelsea council in 2013, work still hasn't started, and the council is meeting today to discuss its options.

It may decide to order the owner to fill in the hole, or to get on and complete the work - which, it warns, could take another two and a half years.

"It's been a plague on our lives for eight years," one neighbour tells the Standard.

"We've had problems with subsidence from the dig. We don't overlook a garden in a lovely London neighbourhood but a vast chasm into a building site. We just want it sorted once and for all."

Basements are becoming the bane of many Londoners' lives, with recent research from the FT revealing that the number of planning applications for basement 'dig downs' in the capital had doubled in two years to nearly 900.

And thanks to noise, structural problems and other disruption they are causing unprecedented rows between neighbours. In a survey four years ago, Kensington & Chelsea council found that more than half of locals said that basement extensions had caused them problems, with noise and dirt heading the list.

Earlier this year, the founder of Carphone Warehouse, Sir Charles Dunstone fell foul of his neighbours by applying for permission to build a vast basement extension, again in Kensington & Chelsea.

His lawyer says it will 'enhance family life' - his own, not his neighbours', presumably.

And it's not just the neighbours who can suffer from a basement conversion: we recently reported on a £4 million Georgian house in Barnes which collapsed into a pile of rubble during the excavation of a basement extension.

              Greenwich sinkhole: Car owner relieved that no-one was hurt
Greenwich sinkhole: Car owner relieved that no-one was hurt