No Basements for Bedford Park?

LBH Planning Inspectorate rejects plans for conservation area

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The Bedford Park Society has welcomed this week's decision by The Planning Inspectorate to reject plans for the building of basements in Bedford Park.

As the earliest garden suburb dating from 1875, Bedford Park had a major influence on the development of house design in Britain; one of the most important features was lack of habitable basements in contrast to most Victorian housing at the time. The Society has been concerned that the creation of basements in Bedford Park would destroy this important historical element, that it would affect the character of the area and endanger the fabric of adjacent houses.

A resident in the Hounslow side of Bedford Park had appealed against the Council's decision to refuse permission for a basement under one part of a pair of listed semi detached houses. The Inspector supported the Council's position on the basis that the "lack of basements is a factor that contributed to the character and special interest of the listed buildings'; that the effect of the design would be "visually disturbing and detrimental to the character and architectural and historic integrity of the building and its garden setting" and that "an approval on appeal in this instance would increase pressure on the Council to approve further proposals."

"This is a very important ruling" says Peter Murray Secretary of the Bedford Park Society. "We fully expect Ealing Council, which oversees the other half of Bedford Park, to follow the Inspector's views. The ruling makes absolutely clear what can and can't be done with listed houses in Bedford Park. We do not want residents wasting money on preparing designs that will not succeed. We hope that agents selling houses here will make potential purchasers aware of this case."

Bedford Park was developed between 1875 and 1886 by Jonathan Carr who was inspired by the Aesthetic Movement and by reformers such as Benjamin Ward Richardson whose pamphlet of 1875 entitled Hygeia: a City of Health rejected the idea of basements as living space. Houses in Bedford Park were designed by architects E W Godwin, E J May, Maurice Adams and most importantly, R. Norman Shaw.

Writing in the Daily Telegraph in August 1960 Sir John Betjeman called Bedford Park “the most significant suburb built in the last century, probably the most significant in the Western world.”



April 19, 2007