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Two multi-million pound houses collapse in Chelsea and dozens of neighbours evacuated

Written by on 3 November 2020

Two multi-million pound houses which were under renovation in one of London’s most expensive areas have collapsed “from the roof to ground level”.

Emergency services evacuated at least 40 people from nearby residences after the incident involving the mid-terrace properties on Durham Place in Chelsea.

The homes were said to be undergoing basement development projects when the collapse happened just before midnight on Monday evening.

No one was believed to be injured.

One local witnessed the building come down in west London and was one of the first to call police.

Image:
The two homes collapsed on Monday evening

The man – who wished to remain anonymous – returned to the scene the following morning.

“I live in the area and was just passing by when the building suddenly collapsed to the ground”, he said.

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“It was extremely loud, there was dust everywhere.

“There were a lot of people coming out of their homes in the surrounding area to see what was going on, they were unharmed. It was quite bad, really surreal.

“The police were amazing, I was still on the phone with them when the first patrol came to the scene.”

Homes collapse in Chelsea
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A large gaping hole can be seen where the properties once stood

The man added: “The evacuation was done in a COVID-secure way and they did a good job,” as he thanked a police officer at the scene on Tuesday morning.

It is not known how much each of the damaged properties was worth, but one report put the figure at around GBP4m.

Real estate company Seabrook Properties Ltd were given a green light for planning permission by the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea council in August 2019.

The work to be done was a rear extension to the lower ground floor with a terrace on the upper level – an amendment to a previous request granted the year before.

Durham Place
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The properties were part of a row of houses on Durham Place. File pic: Google Street View

The council warned in the application letter that “if not properly managed, construction works can lead to significant negative impacts on the local environment, reducing residential amenity and the safe function of the highway”.

Meanwhile, a planning application for the next door property was made less than two weeks ago.

The council letter dated 23 October planned a “basement excavation, demolition of extension and roof terrace and replacement with a two-storey rear extension with roof terrace, and a single storey extension at the lower ground floor”.

Collapsed homes in Chelsea
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One man said he saw the building collapse and the crash was ‘extremely loud’

A decision from the council was expected on 19 November.

A seven-bedroom house a few doors down sold last year with a value around GBP16m, according to Rightmove.

Large-scale basement developments, typically entire new floors under the footprint of the house and garden, have become common among London’s wealthy.

Some of the constructions include basements as deep as 18m underground, according to a report from Newcastle University.

London Fire Brigade described the site a “total collapse of the building from the roof to ground level”.

Station commander Jason Jones, who was at the scene, said: “Firefighters worked to make the scene safe and our drone team carried out a search.”

He added: “A police search dog also carried out an external search of the building and at this stage, there are no reports of any injuries.”