How is Ground Level determined?

How is Ground Level determined?

Postby emailtojohn » Mon Oct 31, 2005 10:56 pm

Can anybody tell me how Ground Level is determined in terms of Planning Regulations?

I have an extension (38sqm) that is at Basement Level and Ground Floor level to an existing terraced house with a basement. I have been told that this development is unauthorised as more than 12sqm is above ground level.

My understanding is that I do not have an extension above ground level as my upper floor is at ground level in line with all houses in the area. The max height of the extension, above street level is 3m-4m and it is less than half the height of all two story houses in the area.

Any ideas or thoughts?
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Re: How is Ground Level determined?

Postby ConK » Wed Nov 02, 2005 6:28 pm

I have a two storey over basement terraced house. and have recently been involved in a world of planning pain. In terms of planning "ground" vrs "basement" is irrelavant - in that - they don't care if you bury the basement level - if it has an upstairs it is a two storey - end of story.

I think the reference to the 12 Metres Sq is regarding a different rule altogether. If you look at the Dublin City guide to Exempted Developments you'll find that the 2nd storey may not be greater than 12 Sq Meters ( - that's the figure you've mentioned). If it is greater than that sq foot - you must go for full planning permission, if it is smaller and the devleopment meets a few other criteria; you might not have to go for planning perm.
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Re: How is Ground Level determined?

Postby emailtojohn » Wed Nov 02, 2005 11:28 pm

I have no doubt that Planning Authorties take this view. But can anybody expailn the legal justification for it. The Planning Act would seem to be vey vague. The reference is "above ground level" rather than any mention of first and second floor. Surely the site, street level etc have to be taken into account?
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Re: How is Ground Level determined?

Postby ctesiphon » Wed Nov 02, 2005 11:44 pm

How much underground is your basement? Fully submerged?
Is your back garden level lower than street level?
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Re: How is Ground Level determined?

Postby emailtojohn » Thu Nov 03, 2005 12:54 am

Overall. basement is about 5ft below front street level, In the back garden, the bottom floor is about 4ft below finished ground level of all house within sight.

Does anybody know of a test case that many have explored this issue?
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Re: How is Ground Level determined?

Postby ctesiphon » Thu Nov 03, 2005 1:18 am

Though this is just a hunch, I suspect that some clever-clever planner or architect once made an application claiming that the lowest floor of a building was a basement because it was 6 inches below street level (and got away with it), so ever since they have had a very strict definition of what constitutes a basement. Hence the 'above ground level' bit. Yours sound to me like a half-basement, so I can see where the local authority is coming from.

Don't know any cases, I'm afraid. And the above paragraph is just wild speculation on my part (or an educated guess, depending on how you view it :) ).
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Re: How is Ground Level determined?

Postby emailtojohn » Thu Nov 03, 2005 1:18 pm

You are a wealth of knowledge. Is there any change you could be more specific in that case. It would be a great help.
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Re: How is Ground Level determined?

Postby ctesiphon » Thu Nov 03, 2005 1:54 pm

How do you mean 'more specific'? Do you want me to elaborate on the hypothetical situation outlined above? As I said, it's only speculation, but I could speculate some more if you like? :)
Bear in mind that my speculation is somewhat at odds with ConK's first-hand experience, where he said "If it has an upstairs it's a two-storey... end of story."
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Re: How is Ground Level determined?

Postby sw101 » Thu Nov 03, 2005 4:18 pm

if the extension is to the rear, then ground level is the level of the ground on which the extension is being built. in this case that wouyld be basement level. it is a two-storey extension, regardless of the level of the front of the house. by saying "anything over ground level", they mean ground level to the rear.

when did archiseek become central station for advice for people trying to subvert planning regulations?
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Re: How is Ground Level determined?

Postby ctesiphon » Thu Nov 03, 2005 4:47 pm

I'd agree fully with your interpretation, sw101, but I can see how the Regs might cause confusion to the uninitiated. Though to clarify, even if the extension is partly submerged rather than built on the ground level, it still qualifies as ground level, so anything above it is 'first floor'.

To be fair to John, I don't think he's trying to subvert the Regs. It sounds like he's just trying to resolve a problematic situation.

However, I also wondered recently where this sudden rash of calls for planning advice came from. I wonder if local authorities aren't directing tricky cases to the sages at archiseek? :) As you've probably seen from my posts to other similar threads, I'm directing people to planning consultants. I don't think advice given off the tops of our heads is any replacement for a proper case analysis, and I'd stress that again. I don't intend to dole out free advice forever as I've many other things to be getting on with. And to be fair to local authorities, they have improved greatly in this type of thing themselves.
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Re: How is Ground Level determined?

Postby ctesiphon » Thu Nov 03, 2005 5:01 pm

Meant to say:
As DOC and I said on different threads recently, it's best to get a Section 5 Declaration from the local authority before commencing works. It will tell you if PP is required and it will prevent pesky neighbours from interfering down the line (assuming one keeps within the terms of the development as agreed).
There really is no substitute for it.
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Re: How is Ground Level determined?

Postby sw101 » Thu Nov 03, 2005 5:27 pm

ctesiphon wrote:There really is no substitute for it.


you could always print off one of these threads ;)
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