Local residents will now be able to report noise, dust and traffic problems caused by basement developments to a dedicated team of council officers.
The service will be funded by a levy on new basement developments, as established in the council’s new code of construction practice.
“We are sticking up for local residents, many of whom have found the explosion of basement development in recent years hellish,” explained councillor Robert Davis, deputy leader and cabinet member for the built environment at Westminster City Council.
“It is right that those who want to build basements should contribute to this new service, which will work to help mitigate the negative impacts.
“Westminster City Council supports the right kind of growth and is not against all basement development, but they must be carried out in a way that is considerate to local residents and the environment.”
The new team will ensure that sites coordinate their deliveries, check that neighbours are kept informed and enforce stricter working hours to reduce noise at inconvenient times.
Development sites of more than 10 residential units or over 1,000sqm (around 10,800 sq ft) of commercial floor space will also be policed by the squad.
On average, residential basement schemes will face an £8,000 levy, though the largest developments can be charged approximately £30,000.
Over the last five years, Westminster City Council claims to have received an average of 150 basement applications per year.
However, under the new planning rules, basements will be limited to a single storey and no more than 50% of total garden land.
The new powers will only apply to basements that gained planning permission from August 2016 onward.