Sprawling super-basements dug beneath London’s homes were today blamed for ‘biblical’ flash flooding that caused millions of pounds of damage to properties.
The enormous underground caverns – popular with the wealthy wanting to expand their space – were criticised by experts and victims of the massive leaks as they counted the cost of the weather today.
Kensington and Chiswick were been particularly hard hit as three inches of rain made it the third wettest day for West London on record.
The waters cascaded into homes, ruining treasured possessions and mementos and causing expensive damage to properties.
Last night flood waters also poured through the streets of Portobello Road in Notting Hill after nearly three inches of rain hit the capital in just 90 minutes and in Raynes Park, south London, cars were left abandoned in around 2ft of water after torrential downpours caused travel chaos and left homes and businesses flooded.
Meanwhile in Turnpike Lane, north London, people were spotted wading through the water in the streets as the heavy rain pelted down and flooded the roads.
Flooding expert and campaigner Mary Dhonau OBE told MailOnline flooding was caused by a jigsaw of different factors.
But the consultant, who has previously been chair of the National Flood Forum, said the rise of the ‘super-basement’ would contribute as it took away land that would previously have absorbed water to avoid flooding.
She said: ‘There has got to be somewhere for the water to go. When there is rain it falls onto the ground and percolates in areas of the ground. Super-basements are being built where the water would naturally percolate.
‘There are other factors like climate change, but the more we take away permeable surfaces the more places will flood.
‘North Kensington is a prime example of land that would have soaked up water, which is now being used for super basements.
‘It is a jigsaw of things that can cause flooding. You can do things to make flooding more likely and one of those things is using more land for super-basements.’
Queen guitarist Brian May, who also lives in the area, said he was heartbroken and devastated after coming back to the ‘horror’ of finding his basement flooded with a sewage overflow which destroyed carpets, rugs and precious photos and memorabilia from over the years.
Brian, 73, who is married to former Eastenders actress Anita Dobson, 72, posted a video on his Instagram to show the extent of the ‘disgusting’ damage in their £7million home.
He admitted he didn’t ‘know where to start’ as he showed off the ‘stuff’ including ancient photos from his childhood strewn and dirtied everywhere at the bottom floor of their house.
He said: ‘Just when you think everything is ok, nothing else is going to bite you, you can deal with life’
‘It feels like we were have been invaded, desecrated. Anita had a lifetime of memorabilia on the floor of our basement – and most of it is sodden and ruined. I had rescued all my most treasured childhood photo albums and scrapbooks from my studio house because it was threatened with a forest fire some months ago.’
‘Where did I put it all for safety ? In the basement here in Kensington. Irony. Today it turned into a sodden mess.’
‘Historically, for 150 years, Kensington has never flooded due to rainwater. Why did this happen ? It’s almost certainly the result of all the basement building that has been plaguing this area for the past 10 years.
‘The Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea council was warned years ago that sinking so many deep basement extensions would obstruct the aquifers underneath our living space and render the drainage system ineffective.’
In recent years researchers at Newcastle University found there were 785 large basements – going at least two storeys under the house, or one storey far under the garden, in the study carried out for The Guardian .
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A further 112 were ‘mega basements’ – at three storeys in depth or two far under the garden. Some 67 are in Kensington and Chelsea, while another 34 are in Westminster.
A Kensington and Chelsea Council spokesperson said: ‘Our priority is to make sure residents who have been affected by last night’s flooding have the help they need.
Overnight we have placed 120 residents in emergency hotel accommodation and are making emergency repairs this morning. We are making welfare calls to vulnerable residents and have set up a centre at The Curve in North Kensington where Council officers are on hand to support people affected. Flash floods have affected boroughs across London after sudden and torrential rainfall.
‘This is causing damage and disruption across the city, not just here in Kensington and Chelsea and is not linked to basement building.’
Ed Barry’s Over Under Coffee office in Ladbrook Grove was submerged in water after the flash floods hit last night
Jacqui, 60, said her daughter had lost everything in the flooding and tens of thousands of pounds and was not insured
Queen guitarist Brian May posted pictures online of the flood damage which ruined treasured photographs and mementos
Mr May blamed deep basement extensions that have been built for causing problems with drainage of excess water
This home in Maida Vale and its glass door showed exactly how much water had fallen in the capital yesterday evening
Daisy King posted the devastating damage to her home as the water managed to get in and flood her property
The mess dragged in from the water could be clearly seen in the devastating pictures, which were posted publicly online
This London home saw the washing machine almost completely submerged by the flood water from the heavy rainfall
A motorist wades to safety after a freak flash flood submerged the road outside Westfield London on Monday evening
Storeholders around Portobello Road, West London start the clear up after torrential rain and flash flooding caused damage
The study by Newcastle University found 4,650 basement have been approved for homes in London in just a decade
The weather is set to clear as the week goes on with higher temperatures expected into the weekend
Network Rail has confirmed widespread disruption continues across the Thameslink network despite services resuming within the last hour while Tube services on the Circle, District and Hammersmith & City lines remain partially suspended due to the flooding.
The London Overground also remains partly suspended with severe delays across the network while teams work to repair the damage caused.
Last night, flood waters poured through the streets of Portobello Road in Notting Hill after nearly three inches of rain hit the capital in just 90 minutes and in Raynes Park, south London, cars were left abandoned in around 2ft of water after torrential downpours caused travel chaos and left homes and businesses flooded.
Meanwhile in Turnpike Lane, north London, people were spotted wading through the water in the streets as the heavy rain pelted down and flooded the roads.
Jean Christophe Puget, 37, who owns French bakery Maison Puget on Portabello Road, will have to replace a £50,000 oven destroyed by water.
He told the Evening Standard: ‘I also have no electricity now, so all my stock is lost.
‘The amount of water was incredible. I put a table in the road to stop the traffic coming down Portobello Road.’
Shaker Hassan, 42 who runs a souvenir shop told MailOnline that almost £8,000 worth of stock had been damaged following the down pour, which started at around 4pm on Monday and lasted for 90 minutes.
He moaned: ‘There was torrential rain and then water started coming out of the drains. It was unbelievable, I’ve never seen anything like it. It was like a river running along Portobello Road. I was at my shop until 9pm clearing out the water but even now, it’s still a mess.
‘I run a very small business and things have been very difficult over the past 18 months because of the pandemic. Not many tourists have been coming to Portobello Road and now I’ve lost even more money because of the damage to my stock from the flooding. This is the last thing I needed.’
Kenny Kanero, 52 who runs the London Tree House toy shop claimed that almost £5,000 worth of stock had been damaged as water up to a-metre-high flooded in.
He said: ‘I was here until late last night cleaning up and have reopened this morning but there was a lot of stock on the floor which got damaged and which I won’t be able to sell.
‘The water was just getting higher and higher and at one stage, I got very worried because I thought I would have to evacuate the shop. But luckily, it stopped.’
Mr Kanero revealed how he was forced to help an elderly lady who lived in a basement flat below his shop as the deluge continued.
He said: ‘There was water flooding out of her toilet and shower and her whole flat has been ruined. Everything she owns was damaged and her family are now looking after her.
‘A lot of the water on the road was gushing out of the drains. The council clean them every six months but clearly they are not doing it regularly enough.’
Writer Liz Brewer, who has penned two books on etiquette, was hit by floods of dark water in her home in Belgravia.
Shop owners in around Portobello Road, West London start the clear up after torrential rain hit the capital
Freak flash floods battered roads, with homes and classrooms deluged as nearly three inches of rain fell in a 90 minute frenzy
A month’s rain fell in an hour over parts of London. However, sunshine and warm weather is predicted for the rest of the week
The Met Office issued yellow weather warnings for heavy rain and thunderstorms before the freak bad weather struck
When is planning permission needed for new basements?
Creating a basement in your home will only require planning permission in certain cases.
This includes converting an existing residential cellar or basement into a living space when it is a separate unit, significantly altering the usage or a adding a light well to change how the property looks.
Permission is also needed when you excavate to create a new basement which involves major works.
Creating a basement from scratch will probably need permission and building regulations are different if the basement is to be used as a ‘habitable’ space.
This includes providing a fire escape route, proper ventilation and a defined ceiling height.
However, generally permission for a conversion is not needed unless you are changing the look of the outside of the house or the building is listed.
She told MailOnline: ‘There were about 12 inches of water that hit my home. Fortunately I was out when it happened and I got the alert something was wrong.
‘It is the basement of my house, which is where my office is located, so a lot of my files down there have been ruined. Fortunately I have a back up of most things on my computer.
‘I am ringing the insurers this morning. My neighbours also had about the same amount of water come in. It was dark water, it’s never happened before. I’m sure there is a lot of damage in the area, fortunately it seems to be mostly in basements.’
Jacqui Barber, 60, told MailOnline: ‘I was in the house and there was a lot of rain and it was torrential coming over the top of the houses.
‘I heard a gurgling sound and water started coming up in the toilet. I flushed it and it went down again but the next thing we knew it was pouring through the front door and was up to our knees.
‘It went up to our knees in sewage water, nothing could be saved. We have lost tens of thousands of pounds and we are not insured.
‘We have managed to get a lot of the stuff out and it’s now all at the front of the property. It was my daughter’s flat in the basement and I live above so she is coming up with me. She is nine months pregnant.
‘People are out in the streets today just dragging their belongings out. One of my neighbours is insured but they are told me they’ve been told it isn’t covered because it’s classed as a national disaster.’
In other scenes, Sloane Square tube station in Chelsea was forced to shut down after fast flowing water poured down the steps of the underground and in South Hampstead motorists desperately tried to navigate their way through the roads as the heavy rainfall continued to fall.
Cars are left abandoned in around 2ft of water after heavy rain falls on a road in South Hampstead, north London, yesterday
Flood waters poured through the streets of Portobello Road in Notting Hill after nearly three inches of rain hit the capital in just 90 minutes yesterday
Rain batters the streets of London forcing cars to drive through inches of rain during thunderstorms in London last night
It wasn’t all mayhem, as mechanic Andy Simmons downed tools and brought out the jet-ski he stores at his garage in Poole, Dorset
Cars are abandoned in water after torrential downpours left roads flooded in Turnpike Lane, north London, yesterday
In St John’s Wood, one homeowner was left shocked as water began to splurge out of their overflowing toilet through their property
Roads are flooded in Maida Vale, west London, after heavy rainfall hits the capital – with nearly three inches of rain hitting the region in just 90 minutes
People sprint through the streets of Highgate in north London with their umbrellas to get out of the torrential downpours
People are left drenched as torrential rain falls down on Turnpike Lane in north London, with the Met Office warning of floods and up to two inches of rain
The London Fire Brigade received more than 1,000 calls last night and the Met Office also warned there would be flooding in the south of the country
Pipes begins to overflow on a road in Lancaster West Estate, near Grenfell, west London, after heavy rainfall hits the region
A bridge is roped off after a road was flooded in south London, as heavy rain continues to fall across London and the south of England
The Met Office issue a yellow weather warning as west London is battered with downpours of rain and thunderstorms
Elsewhere, in St John’s Wood, one homeowner was left shocked as water began to splurge out of their overflowing toilet through their property.
MPS Westminster also reported heavy flooding around Colville Terrace, Holland Road and Ladbroke Grove and said the emergency services were now evacuating areas due to flooded properties and collapsed ceilings.
A spokesman said: ‘Reports of heavy flooding around Westminster including Colville Terrace, Holland Road and Ladbroke Grove Emergency services assisting in evacuating areas due to reports of flooded properties and collapsed ceilings. Road closures are in place.
It came as the Met Office issued a yellow weather warning for rain for a large section of southern England and the Environment Agency issued one flood alert for areas close to the upper River Loddon in Basingstoke, Hampshire.
As the intense downpours ensued, the London Fire Brigade confirmed they had received more than 1,000 calls related to flooding and urged people to ‘only call if there was a genuine emergency’.
A spokesperson for the service said: ‘We’re asking people not to walk through or drive through the flood water. Flood water can be contaminated and vehicles can become unstable.
‘We’re also asking people to look out for their neighbours and look out for weather warnings in their area.’
Yesterday, Euston Station lines had to be shut down and underground stations, including Chalk Farm and Hampstead stations in north London and Wimbledon in the south, also drew their barriers due to the heavy rainfall.
A Network Rail spokesperson said: ‘The line between Watford Junction and Euston has been closed and engineers are on site inspecting the track as the water recedes. As soon as it is safe to do so, we will have trains on the move again.
‘We would advise anyone travelling this evening to check with their train operator or the National Rail Enquiries website for the latest information.’
The flooding problems appear to be concentrated in south west and north west London, including boroughs such as Richmond and Kingston.
Last night, residents in a number of areas such as South Hampstead, West Hampstead, Raynes Park, Friern Barnet, Isleworth and Wimbledon took to social media to post videos of the scenes as they expressed their shock at finding whole roads in their neighbourhoods submerged underwater.
Pictures also emerged of people swimming in ponds created by the thunderstorms on Primrose Hill.
In South End Green, firefighters were called to help carry some walkers to safety across roads that had been flooded by water pouring off Hampstead Heath.
And tenants of Lancaster West Estate in North Kensington, near Grenfell Tower, complained that a storm had caused a nearby manhole cover to blow off and ‘water and raw sewage’ was now flowing around the block.
Elsewhere in the UK, Preston was also affected by flooding, with a section of the M6 having to be closed to traffic for some time on Monday afternoon. It has since reopened.
Yesterday, the Met Office issued a severe rain alert for London after parts of the UK were hit by heavy showers and thunderstorms.
A Met Office spokesperson told Mail Online: ‘The torrential downpours could see 20 to 30mm of rain in an hour. Maybe 60mm over two to three hours. Today there is quite a lot of rain around, while tomorrow it becomes a lot more showery.’
The experts issued a yellow weather warning for large swathes of the south coast, with the possibility of flooding to homes, roads and businesses amid the torrential downpours.
A flood warning was also put in place on the River Loddon where river levels have risen as a result of persistent rainfall in previous weeks.
Drivers were told to beware of difficult driving conditions and some road closures due to the heavy rain, while warnings of possible travel disruption across train and bus services were also issued.
The Met Office spokesperson added: ‘The yellow warnings covers most of the south coast from Kent down to Devon and up into East Anglia.
‘Within that warning area you are at risk of seeing some slow moving heavy showers. There is a chance of some thunderstorms as well. The warning is in place until midnight tonight.’
But other parts of the UK are also set to be damp, even those not covered by the Met Office’s official warning.
‘Warnings are issued on impact so the warning area is where we are expecting to see the impacts from the rain, but there could still be rain outside those areas,’ said the Met Office spokesperson.
‘There’s heavy showers with the potential for thunderstorms in Northern Ireland and western Scotland as well. It’s just that the rain won’t have as much of an impact as some of those areas aren’t so heavily populated or built.’
Torrential rain began to flood roads the roads in London yesterday as lightning and thunder also hit the capital
Londoners took to Twitter with their disbelief of the torrential downpours this evening
Social media users took to Twitter to share footage of roads covered in waters and cars left abandoned on the streets
A man gets absolutely soaked as he runs through the streets in Highgate, north London, as rain continued to pour down on the capital
Flash flooding in Putney causes chaos on the roads while commuters try and get home in rush hour
Heavy rainfall causes chaos on the roads in Putney, southwest London, as flash flood hits the capital and southern parts of England
A cyclist is absolutely drenched as she cycles through Putney, southwest London, during last night’s torrential downpours
Flooding inside a building yesterday during the torrential downpours in the south of the country
The umbrellas were necessary as the heavy rain set in across parts of the UK. Pictured: Group in Weymouth, Dorset
Met Office forecasters issued a yellow weather warning for the majority of the south coast amid concerns of flooding
Crestfallen football fans joked that the bleak weather is reflecting the mood of the nation after England lost to Italy in the Euros 2020 final last night
Drivers were told to beware of difficult driving conditions and some road closures due to the heavy rain, while warnings of possible travel disruption across train and bus services were also issued. Pictured: Rainy Weymouth in Dorset
But despite the gloomy weather, the showers are set to stop and the temperatures pick up as Britain heads into the weekend. Pictured: (Right) Pair sit on Eastbourne beach, East Sussex. (Left) Met Office weather warning map
A woman in an umbrella surveys the flooding caused by heavy rain in Bournemouth Gardens on the south coast of the UK
Bournemouth (pictured, flooding in Bournemouth gardens) is one of the many cities along the south coast affected by the yellow weather warnings
It follows news that despite the wet weather we experienced in Britain throughout the month, Europe enjoyed the second-warmest June on record.
But the good weather is set to return this weekend as the rain clears throughout the week with temperatures expected to reach up to 26C.
This is due to a high pressure system building northeastwards from the Azores, which experts say mean the second half of the week will be warm and more settled.
And in brighter news, the Met Office’s long range forecast is predicting sunnier spells for the rest of July and into early August, where conditions could be ‘warmer and drier’ than the average year.
The Met Office spokesperson added: ‘From Wednesday we start to see a change and a shift in weather type and it becomes much more settled.
‘We’re looking at some dry sunny weather, and as we go through the second half of the week temperatures will start to pick up a bit and become warmer day on day.
‘There’s still potentially some cloud more on the east coast because the onshore breeze is bringing the cloud in.
‘Those settled conditions are set to continue for the rest of the month into the start of August.
‘By the end of the week we could well see mid 20s quite easily. It looks like the warm weather will continue into the weekend and we could see mid to high 20s by the end of the weekend.
‘The warm weather is being caused by a high pressure system and we could see 26, or up to 28 over the weekend.’