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Bunkering down? The geography of elite residential basement development in London

Lookup NU author(s): Emeritus Professor Roger BurrowsORCiD, Professor Stephen Graham, Dr Alexander WilsonORCiD



This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License (CC BY-NC-ND).


Much has been written about the “luxified skies” – “high-rise”, “super-prime” housing for the super-rich – that has been sprouting up across London. Thus far, less attention has been paid to what has been happening to the subterranean city. The “luxified skies” are highly visible reminders of elite “verticality” but, what we might term, “luxified troglodytism” is also an important aspect of London’s changing geometries of wealth, power and architecture. In this paper, we map out in detail the emerging subterranean geography of residential basement development across London since 2008. The very wealthy, it turns out, have been “bunkering down” across certain parts of London, to an extent hitherto little understood. Some 7,328 new residential basements underneath existing houses had been granted planning permission up to late-2019. Over 1,500 of them are of a size that their locations might best be thought of as marking out a distinct plutocratic “basement belt”.

Publication metadata

Author(s): Burrows R, Graham S, Wilson A

Publication type: Article

Publication status: Published

Journal: Urban Geography

Year: 2022

Volume: 43

Issue: 9

Pages: 1372-1393

Online publication date: 01/06/2021

Acceptance date: 21/05/2021

Date deposited: 08/07/2021

ISSN (print): 0272-3638

ISSN (electronic): 1938-2847

Publisher: Taylor and Francis


DOI: 10.1080/02723638.2021.1934628


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