Could building in airspace be the answer to UK’s housing problem?
In the two weeks since the UK government confirmed that a new permitted development right (PDR) would allow upward extensions of two-storeys on existing blocks of flats, leading airspace developer, Click Above has witnessed a three-fold increase in enquiries from freeholders looking to realise the value of the development space above their existing investments.
Coming into effect on August 1 2020, the new PDR has been long mooted and subject to a lengthy consultation. In essence, it enables property owners to progress with upward extensions of two additional storeys on detached blocks of purpose-built flats without the need for planning permission.
Such developments remain, however, subject to a number of approvals and there are exceptions. It is knowledge of these intricacies, that Click Above believes has positioned it as a go-to source for enquiries.
Those in favour of the move say it could help with the UK’s chronic shortage of housing although there are no guarantees any new developments will be aimed towards first-time buyers or those struggling to acquire housing.
Laith Mubarak is Click Above’s Acquisition’s Director and leads on the firm’s rooftop acquisition strategy. He comments: “We have invested heavily in our approach to this specialist area of construction and our commitment is to deliver quality new homes.
“To receive such a significant increase in enquiries in such a short period of time, demonstrates that these interested parties are keen to engage with experts who fully understand what developing above existing buildings involves.
“This isn’t simply a case of throwing up prefabricated units to increase housing supply and the enquiries we’re fielding are from prospective partners who appreciate the potential of this exciting development.”
Click Above is currently in detailed discussions with a number of London Boroughs keen to examine the options for delivering new homes above their existing assets.
Laith continues: “Whether we’re talking to private freeholders, social landlords or local authorities, their concerns are often the same: ‘is my building suitable for this type of extension?’: ‘how will the existing residents be affected?’; ‘how long will there be on-site disruption for?’; and ‘can I engage with a single team to realise the successful completion of such a project?’
The new PDR is subject to a number of exclusions that include buildings that have become residential only after a previous change of use; the existing building being less than three storeys in height; the building being constructed before July 1948 or after March 2018; or the building being located within a Conservation Area (or similar).
There are also several clauses that must be adhered to with regards to the dimensions of the extension.