The Guardian Editor, Alan Rusbridger
The Guardian Newspaper
90 York Way
21st August 2014
RE: Response to G2’s article on Basements
Dear Mr Rusbridger
I read intently Tim Dowling’s well-researched article on basements from yesterday’s (19/08/14) G2 supplement.
The problem identified in the feature is correct, chronic and growing exponentially; London’s living space crisis. The fact of the matter is that London as a capital has a small footprint, who’s expansion is severely restricted by the Chilterns to the left, the sea to the right and a the de facto 360° firewall of the greenbelt and M25. Yet the population will continue to by 1.3 million within 15 year according to Boris’ London Plan.
So the solutions are self-writing; either build up, down or make better use of what’s already there.
Basements provide a feasible solution to the Capital’s living space crisis. But as you go on to expertly report, they come with significant baggage, including severe noise pollution to neighboring residents, long-winded planning problems, inevitable party wall disputes and the staggering revelation that come a few years down the line, planners don’t know what long-term sinking affects the excavations will have on our Capital’s streets. And one cannot escape the fact that basements are prohibitively expensive for the majority of London’s residents; so they serve the phenomena of further increasing the gap between the haves and the have-nots. None of this serves the interests of a majority of London’s aspiring home owners and their families, who for one lifestyle circumstance or another, crave more space.
There is an alternative to the problem. It is not a new solution nor is it revolutionary. But it is elegant, it is affordable and it is accessible to a majority of Londoners; it is a humble loft conversion.
A well-constructed loft conversion is the number one way to add up to 40% more space to a home. Because loft conversions are only a fraction of the cost of a basement, they represent a handsome investment where property values go up as a result of a conversion. Typically our client see a £3 return for every £1 spent on the loft (often vastly more in certain postcodes). This can represent a life-changing sum of money for families. From a broader housing market perspective, adding this much more habitable square footage to the food chain would serve to ease the lack of living space crisis faced by Londoners.
Deepak Singh Udassi
MD of www.CityLoftsLondon.com
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