Going underground: the subterranean secrets of London\’s super-rich

The subterranean secrets of London’s super-rich are revealed in a study of 4,650 basements granted planning permission in some of the capital’s most affluent neighbourhoods, with hundreds of swimming pools and cinemas in the most luxurious developments.

Almost 1,000 gyms, 376 pools, 456 cinemas, 381 wine stores and cellars and 115 staff rooms, including bedrooms for nannies and au pairs, were found in the plans for the basements approved by seven London boroughs between 2008 and 2017.

The data, collected by Newcastle University’s global urban research unit from planning applications, identified two basements with more than one pool, including one with an artificial beach.

campaigned for tighter restrictions on basement developments, said: “The sheer opulence of many of the larger basement excavations caused jaws to drop even in fairly affluent neighbourhoods like St John’s Wood and Bayswater, where neighbours have sometimes found themselves under siege from these developments. And it wasn’t uncommon to be told that the building was scarcely occupied at the end.”

The study found that council policies introduced to restrict the size of basement developments had led to a downturn in applications in recent years, but the researchers added that the numbers being granted approval in the past two years were similar to those in 2008-12, only now there were fewer mega-basements.