Basement Building Hell Can Kill You


In the last few weeks, months and years, I’ve been campaigning for many causes, often for the rights of animals, Foxes, Badgers, Hedgehogs – sometimes for awareness of the need to protect against Asteroid strike, sometimes in support of Children’s projects … but all the time, I’ve been quietly battling against something back home which has been poisoning my life. Every morning for the past 9 years or so, I’ve got up with anger inside me, frustration, feelings of being abused. And although I’ve occasionally let out a cry of something like ‘Basement Building Bastards’, mostly this feeling of powerlessness in the face of an enemy that hides behind planning permissions has been bottled up. It’s made me feel ill, and now it’s time to let it out of the bag. I’m not just fighting for myself, even here, of course. All my fellow neighbours in our street are in a similar state of extreme despondency, because we are being day by day forced to leave the homes we worked all our lives to build.

Is this the cry of a rich kid ?

I come from a very poor family as a child. I know what it’s like to have no money to pay the gas or the electricity. I lived in a street where nobody had enough money to buy a car, never mind build extensions to their houses. But those people were decent … they were considerate. They wouldn’t make disruptions in the street. They’d make sure their kids were polite. They’d never mow their lawn on a Sunday, because they knew others were getting a quiet moment in the garden. But it was very basic – tiny rooms, tiny gardens, no central heating, and really we were crammed so close together there was little privacy.

The neighbourhood where Anita and I bought a house about 20 years ago in Kensington is the kind of place I always dreamed I might be able to afford to live. A peaceful tree-lined street with houses big enough to accommodate kids, pets, overnight guests – and also be a work place for people like me who create their stuff mainly at home.

About 10 years ago, all that began to change. In the area people started applying to extend their houses, making noise and dust and giving us increased traffic; but this was only the beginning. Soon the drive towards basement extensions began, and over the last few years our quality of life has disappeared. We now have no peace. We now wake up every morning to drilling, angle-grinding, and the hideous noise of piling rigs. The road is filled with men in hi-vis jackets on mobile phones, heavy lorries, cranes, earth-moving equipment, and our privacy is non-existent. Not just for short periods while a job is expedited. No. It’s six days a week, every week of every year.

It’s like having someone banging on your head with a stick for hours on end every day. Someone who regards it as their right to do so. You can’t stop them. You can’t hit back. Day after day they get away with it. Day after day you feel abused, hurt, angry, frustrated. In the end you really want to strangle them. Seriously, I’m surprised someone somewhere hasn’t cracked, and physically attacked one of these perpetrators of basement-building Hell on Earth.

Well, I’m not the attacking kind, but I feel that if I sit on all this frustration any longer, without letting the lid off it, I truly will explode into pieces. So today I’m setting out the whole story here on the Soapbox. It’s a package of compressed documents, which anyone will be able to access, to get an idea how one of these scenarios unfolds. It’s a case of a few incredibly selfish people building most often purely to make money, and a few people on the local council who have failed in their job of protecting the residents of London from the destruction of their environment.

Kensington truly has become a Hellhole. You only have to walk around it to see. We will now be seeing more and more decent people quitting in disgust, in search of a decent place to live.

Cheers all