Going underground in N1. But Hackney council’s not so keen on digging for profits

Going underground to enlarge a house: a rich-people’s trend comes to NE London

NORTH Londoners walking from Islington to Dalston may have been intrigued by what looks the creation of a private swimming pool in a Mildmay Grove South backyard. All it seems to need is water.

But the house at the corner where that street meets Mildmay Park will soon be sharing its site with another: the builders are making not a pool but a house.

It is not just a garden grab, it is an under-garden grab. The owner, Alfonzo Cuozzo, who lets accommodation in the existing, and very handsome, early-1800s building is spending about £400,000 to build a basement-and-ground-floor house, with a view to selling it for at least £700,000.

The early 19th-century house at no 42

Islington council granted permission in 2008 and the cottage should be finished by the winter. It was designed by Chris Roche, of 11.04 Architects, Shoreditch E2 7HX. He said: “A derelict site that once blighted the neighbourhood is being brought back into use as an affordable family house, discreetly set behind a garden wall.”

Excavations to increase the space of houses have been making headlines in London: in one incident a builder died when a floor collapsed during excavations below a Fulham house.
The popularity of excavation to increase property size has grown in Islington and in Hackney, where the council is open to going-underground proposals, so long as the scheme looks good and enough light can be had inside the structure.
That is, however,  a reductionist simplification: anyone wanting to build down should look at Hackney‘s clearly written Residential Extensions and Alterations SPD (“SPD”? Never mind, you should search for “basement extensions”).
A Hackney council planner tells Loving Dalston: “Excavation can be costly. Houseowners usually get to  thinking about extending at the rear of their property, or in the roof – the loft extension – before considering digging down.”
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