Airspace Development – Tackling London’s Housing Shortage

February 13, 2019

The government is backing the development of new rooftop homes in London and across the UK. This move presents new opportunities for developers and will alleviate the capital’s current housing shortage.

London’s rooftops could provide 14.5 million square metres of potential space for new airspace developments, according to research carried out by Apex Airspace Development in 2016. If used, this space would provide capacity for approximately 180,000 new homes. It’s an effective and innovative way of alleviating the existing housing shortages in the capital, as well as assisting both private freeholders and public bodies to save on roof replacement programmes and add value to the building.

UK Pioneers Development of Rooftop Properties in London

The UK government has provided almost £500 million for 11,000 airspace developments across England and is currently backing a pioneering project to build such rooftop properties in several London locations, including Tooting, Wanstead, Walthamstow, Putney and Wallington. The £9 million funding deal between Homes England, the new national housing agency, and Apex Airspace Developments serves as a recent example, which is bound to deliver 78 rooftop homes in three years. The properties in question will be primarily constructed off-site before being hauled on top of buildings, to minimise the disruption to existing residents. Such developments are permitted under a revised planning rulebook that encourages authorities to promote the use of airspace above existing residential and commercial premises for new homes.

Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government, James Brokenshire, claims that the Government has now removed the cap on how much councils can borrow to build more. It’s investing £2 billion of long term funding to help housing associations deliver; with the Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, supporting rooftop developments and the GLA including airspace in its draft London Plan. These moves suggest a more substantial approach towards solving the housing crisis.

Flexibility Opens Up New Opportunities For Airspace Developments

Housing providers continue to be confronted by budget shortfalls, increased demand, shortage of affordable housing, labour constraints and a lack of available land for new homes. However, there is a change in sentiment, with housing associations allowed more flexibility to use their funding across development programmes and respond quickly to local housing demand and a changing market. New opportunities for airspace developments are opening up across London, as well as the rest of the UK, and should spur developers to consider this practical and effective alternative.

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