Airspace and rooftop development refers to building new homes on top of existing structures. Updating tired estates in need of refurbishment does not have to mean costly demolition; developing new homes upwards while renovations take place makes for a more efficient way forward.
Importantly, airspace development requires no decant of existing residents or loss of community and delivers new housing within established estates. We believe it is an innovative, long-term solution to deliver much-needed homes within London.
Now more than ever, private firms need to work alongside and support social landlords. Many councils are committed to building new homes at affordable and social rents to address escalating demand, but these programmes are significantly affected by a shortage of land within council ownership, acquisition costs for sites and planning considerations relating to the siting of new-build developments.
There is a huge opportunity to utilise airspace in the capital, but it requires specialist expertise and understanding to make it happen, as you are usually dealing with occupied buildings. New technology, along with pioneering construction methods, make rooftop development a safe, environmentally sympathetic and cost-effective way to provide more homes for Londoners – all while regenerating emerging locations and adding value to existing properties.
While the government has recognised the potential of airspace via PDR, we actually prefer to go down the full planning route as it delivers a better end product for all parties.
A live example of this is our work with EastendHomes, where we are delivering 142 new homes of which 80% are affordable at the Eric Estate, along with further estate refurbishment work and upgrades benefiting all residents. It is this type of partnership that can provide a sustainable housing solution for the future.
Charles Pear is group director and partner at Gracewood Group