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Inside London's mega-basements the

subterranean mansions complete with


swimming pools, banquet rooms, and
catwalks
CHARLES CLARK
MAR. 30, 2016, 9:55 AM

It's no secret
that London's
property
market is out
of
control: The
city's super-
wealthy are
splashing
their cash on
levels of
luxury most
of us can only
dream of
including 30
million
Swimming pools have become a standard fixture in basements for the the uber-wealthy.

Orbital Basements

bomb-proof townhouses and ultra-modern mansions on billionaires row.

But with land a scarce commodity and restrictions limiting how high you can build, what do the ber wealthy do
when they run out of room?

They build downwards.

Luxury basements have riled the city's property market for years now. Developers are attaching millions of
pounds worth of extra value onto already pricey property by creating underground lairs with swimming pools,
cinemas, saunas, and wine cellars.

While a single basement level is enough for some, others have multi-level basements that stretch as far as five
floors underground. These "iceberg basements" are so-called because such large portions of the house sit
underground.
We decided to take a look inside some luxury bunkers to see what all the fuss is about. All the plans we've
included in this article have either been approved or are pending approval for construction from London
councils.

This Grade II listed mansion near St. James' Park in Westminster has
had plans submitted to add an additional two storeys underground.
Properties on this street typically fetch between 5-8 million.

Google Street View


The floor plan for this property's proposed extension shows the sheer
scale of these projects. The house already has six bedrooms, a music
room, and a formal dining room, spread across seven storeys. But the
proposed renovations would see a swimming pool, gymnasium, and
office added to the property.

W estminster Council
Architecturally, London's luxury basements are spectacular. They can
double living space in a city where land is a rare and precious. This
basement project, the brainchild of Prestige Exclusive Lifestyle with
Rigby & Rigby, will transform the property.

Prestige Exclusive Lifestyle and Rigby & Rigby

Image via: Prestige Exclusive Lifestyle and Rigby & Rigby


A large number of basement projects are for Russian and Arab clients.
Qatari investors now own over 1 billion of property in Mayfair alone.
Swimming pools like the one shown here have become a standard
feature in these underground excavations.

Crayson
Many are in posh areas such as Chelsea, Mayfair, and Knightsbridge
some of the most sought-after areas in the city. This disused building in
Knightsbridge looks modest on the outside, but ...

W esminster Council
This spectacular graphic shows the developers' plans are so ambitious
it wil be unrecognisabale once they're done.

W estminster Council

Robert Wilson, the director of Granit Architects, told Business Insider:


"We've heard of requests for rifle ranges, full fashion runways, and
there's a trend, or so I've heard, where people like to swap their artwork
... and if they have a large piece, they often need an elevator to
transport it to their basement gallery."

Granit received their first request for a basement in 1992, when nobody
really knew how to do it. Since then, the number of requests has soared
and they now account for roughly half of all the company's private
residential projects. In the borough of Kensington and Chelsea, there
were 450 basement applications submitted to the council in 2013 alone.
Several high-profile individuals have jumped on the basement
bandwagon, including Andrew Lloyd Webber and Roman Abramovich.
Most recently, billionaire Robert Beecham of the Beechams bubble-bath
empire, got approval to bulldoze this secluded 15 million Primrose Hill
mansion, and replace it with a new one which will sit atop a
200-foot-long basement.

Beechams new house will feature a Turkish bath, a 65-foot swimming


pool, a wine cellar, and a banquet hall for 80 people. Camden Council
gave Beecham's proposals the green light despite protest from
neighbours who said the consruction "will [have] a detrimental effect to
the quality of... life."

Some boroughs have introduced rules restricting the scale of these


projects after neighbours complained about high levels of noise. Granit's
Robert Wilson said people's protests are usually the result of fear, with
neighbours often worrying about their property being undermined and
falling into a hole. Barry Humphries Dame Edna Everage claims
he was nearly killed by falling bricks when a basement project caused
the ceiling in his 1.5 million flat to collapse.

This stuccoed townhouse in Knightsbridge has had plans submitted to


attach an additional two storeys. If construction goes ahead, the house
will have a brand new underground living space which would stretch
almost twice the distance of the house itself, occupying the entire plot of
land. Staff quarters are also a common addition.
The simplest single-storey basement can take four months to complete
and costs roughly 150,000. However, once additional storeys are
added on, or under, prices can surge further into the hundreds of
thousands, and can take up to a year to complete.

The construction cost per square foot of a basement extension in


certain areas of the capital is 400 to 500 per square foot, but the
end-value this attaches onto your property is probably double that.

The basement phenomenon is unique to London and the fad for luxury
bunkers shows no sign of slowing down as space becomes increasingly
difficult to find in the capital. Over 800 basement extensions have been
carried out in Kensington in the past four years.

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