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As the host of such programmes as Help! My House is Falling Down, Sarah Beeny is used to dealing with homeowners enraged by their neighbours’ property developments. Now, however, she may have to cope with some awkward questions of her own.
Beeny, 41, tells Mandrake that she is to dig out the basement beneath her family home in London.
Such developments have been a regular cause of anger because of the disruption that they can cause in the capital’s densely populated streets.
“We’re about to start a basement conversion on our London home,” says the presenter of Property Ladder. “Everyone has gone basement mad, and I feel a bit bad about it, as they can be a hassle, but, at the end of the day, I have four young boys and we need more space, so we’re doing it.”
Beeny, who is leading a campaign, with Kärcher and Keep Britain Tidy, to encourage people to clean up their communities, lives with her husband, the artist Graham Swift, and their children, Billy, Charlie, Rafferty, and Laurie, in a Victorian cottage in Streatham, south London.
Many areas of the capital have seen a huge increase in the number of basement conversions, as the cost of moving up the property ladder escalated. Kensington and Chelsea alone has seen more than 800 planning applications for basements in the past five years.
Residents have often fallen out over such developments. The most notable include the battle between Gert-Rudolph “Muck” Flick, the Daimler-Benz heir, and his neighbours, led by Julian Lloyd Webber, the cellist.
Flick and his third wife, the German heiress Corinne, want to create a seven-metre deep basement for a pool and steam room underneath their Georgian home in South Kensington. But their plans have come up against some opposition.
Other basement-building owners in the area became so unpopular that they were sent a letter by a neighbour telling them that he intended to acquire their house by hook or crook, rip it down and let sheep graze on the ruins.
Help! Sarah Beeny’s burrowing under homeSarah Beeny, the 'Property Ladder' presenter, feels 'bad' for her neighbours because she is about to embark on a basement conversion at her London home.
A terrace house for £1 or £250m – Britain's bizarre housing crisisNews in austerity Britain is not short on grotesque juxtapositions, but there was one this week that was just so spectacular that it couldn't pass without comment. In the same week, terrace houses were expected to change hands in different parts of the country for £250m and £1. That, respectively, is the most expensive housing ever sold in the UK, and some of the cheapest, were it not for councils' occasional tendency to give council estates to developers for free. What sort of urban landscape is it that has such things occurring at once, and what sort of places are these that are so astonishingly disparate in asking price?
Half of privately owned homes are 'under-occupied' Research from Nationwide shows 49% of owned homes have two or more spare bedrooms, while in the private rental sector only 16% do
Buy-to-let: seaside towns offer best returns Landlords in Southampton, Blackpool and Hull achieve rental yields of almost 8% – the highest in the country
Budget 2013: Housebuilders' shares soar as Osborne promises billionsHomebuilders' shares soared after the Chancellor committed billions of pounds of Government backing to get the housing market moving.