Homeowner’s Underground Tunnel Wins Planning Consent Despite Subsidence Risk

Colin Furze's underground tunnel connecting to his bunker
(Image credit: South Kesteven District Council)

A YouTube personality has received retrospective planning permission for a tunnel under his garden to connect his house to an underground bunker.

Colin Furze, who has 11.9m subscribers on YouTube and is known for his unorthodox innovations, built a subterranean bunker in 2016, which is equipped with a bedroom, drum kit and a media centre.  

Planning permission was granted for the bunker in 2014 by South Kesteven District Council, but Mr Furze wanted to access the bunker without having to walk down his garden path. So in 2018 he began tunnelling under his Lincolnshire garden to connect his house, shed and bunker. At the time, the tunnel did not have planning permission.

He spent three years digging the passage, which lies 1.2m (4ft) beneath the surface, then submitted a planning application for the tunnel in April this year. The tunnel began as a secret, but in June Mr Furze began documenting the development of the tunnel on his YouTube channel.

Having begun tunnelling with a shovel and bucket, the tunnel now includes lighting, ventilation and a track system which was installed to help move soil away during digging. 

How Did The Tunnel Get Planning Permission?

Despite concerns that the tunnel would cause concerns regarding health and safety and subsidence, South Kesteven District Council approved the application with the bulk of the work having been completed.

However, a condition was added that any further work on the tunnel must be subject to the "ground and constructions structural integrity being investigated". Moreover, all work must be completed within three years. 

This means that for the next part of Mr Furze’s plans in which he plans to use a digger to connect his shed to the bunker - a distance of around 15m (49ft) - he will require further planning permission. 

Mr Furze told BBC News that there would have been a "bit of an argument" with the council if he hadn't received planning permission. 

“I suppose we would have had a bit of an argument because you know [...] if anyone's seen the videos online, it's steel, concrete, taking it out would cause more carnage than actually building it."

How to Avoid Planning Breaches

In this instance, Mr Furze successfully obtained planning consent retrospectively, but as the demonstration of a monster mansion showed earlier this year, it is a far riskier approach for anyone undertaking a self build, extension, renovation or home improvement project to build without consent. 

It’s always beneficial to plan ahead and investigate whether any improvements you want to make require council approval. And even if you get rejected planning permission, remember that it doesn’t have to be a death knell for your project. The council may suggest changes that need to occur in order for it to be approved, and you can subsequently apply again.  

Jack Woodfield
News Editor

Jack has worked in journalism for 11 years and is the News Editor for Homebuilding & Renovating, a role he has had since 2019. He strives to break the most relevant and beneficial stories for self builders, extenders and renovators, including the latest news on the construction materials shortage and hydrogen heating. In 2021 he appeared on BBC's The World at One to discuss the government's planning reforms. 

He enjoys testing new tools and gadgets, and having bought his first home in 2013, he has renovated every room and recently finished a garden renovation.