Can the Freeholder develop basement below Leasehold ground floor flat?

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    Can the Freeholder develop basement below Leasehold ground floor flat?

    Hi,

    I am looking at purchasing a ground floor flat with access to a basement. Whilst the basement does not fall under the leasehold, the flat was marketed with 'sole use and access to' the basement below, along with pictures of it. It has since transpired that as leaseholder there are no legal rights in place over use of the basement space, however, the only point of entry is through the cellar door in the ground floor flat. The freeholder has no right of way over this space, and can only enter the flat to carry out essential works at reasonable times.
    The basement adds significant storage space and has been fully tanked and serviced by a previous owner who used it as a working space (they did not get freeholder permission to carry out tanking and servicing works). The current owners also actively use the space.

    We have concerns that if we were to purchase the flat, we have no guarantee of continued use of the space or that the freeholder won't choose to block access (to do so he would have to build a new access at the front of the property in to the basement). There is also the worry the freeholder could choose to develop the basement into a self contained unit, as has been done at the neighbouring properties. As there would only be space for one window at the front of the property as we would own the lease in the garden and the property is terraced, I find it difficult to see how they would get permission for a property with such little natural light. I also can't find an example of a basement being converted underneath an occupied ground floor flat - surely the significant disturbance this would create is strong grounds for refusal?

    Any advice on the above would be greatly appreciated.

    Many thanks.

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