Like other facets of this phenomena, the lack of visibility relating to such practices has helped keep them hidden from public scrutiny. In response to the growing concern over these practices, Chelsea and other boroughs are considering measures including: restricting below-ground extensions to a single story, reducing the distance they can expand beyond the building footprint and capping the total subterranean square footage by project (diagrams via TheDailyMail and TheGuardian). While not entirely unique to England, the phenomena has reached a critical point in the region. New legislation in some boroughs of the city aims to cut down on permits issue to such underground expansions and could provide guidance for other cities dealing with similar issues around the world. Finally, any discussion of tunnels and London would be remiss not to mention the famous case of the Mole Man, which helped bring many of these other oddities to light. In Greater London, anecdotes around these mega-basements abound, including stories of the compromising neighboring houses by undermining their structural integrity. Over the last decade, the demand for permits to extend below ground has skyrocketed, increasing by over tenfold. For the safety of all involved, the building has been condemned though there are potential plans in place to turn it into artist housing. As Curbed reports: “In a famous case from 2012, excavation work under the mansion of a Goldmann Sachs director resulted in his neighbor getting trapped inside her home, unable to open her front door since it had shifted so much.”
Indeed, the billionaires building these projects do a lot of strange things to maintain their bottom line while maximizing their additions, including leaving diggers worth thousands of dollars each (millions in aggregate) buried in unmarked and self-dug graves simply because the cost of excavating exceeds that of retrieving them.