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Airspace development

Raising the roof on a growing trend...

What to consider before embarking on airspace development. 

With a lack of housing supply across the UK, there's an alternative to horizontal growth; building up. The market has opened up for development on the top of existing buildings. Airspace developments (or rooftop developments) are being considered far more frequently by property developers, investors, financiers and entrepreneurs. 

The government has set an ambitious target to build 300,000 new homes each year up to 2025.  In 2020 following the government's launch of its "Build, Build, Build" strategy, permitted development rights (PDR) were introduced to allow residential developments to be constructed above certain types of buildings.  The PDR rights include allowing buildings of at least three storeys in height to be built upwards to an overall maximum height of 30 metres. And permit owners to add an extra two storeys on top of existing two-storey homes up to a maximum height of 18 metres.

It has been predicted that the new PDR rights could result in an additional 170,000 new homes, nearly half of the government's annual target.  Clearly, airspace development is a great way to make effective use of existing buildings to deliver housing. We anticipate the market to grow and believe ourselves to be well equipped to advise on the subject.

Not only are Howard Kennedy specialists in London’s real estate market, we also have considerable experience dealing with airspace developments. We give property owners, developers and financiers the confidence to embark on airspace development projects. We have a trusted advisor for every step of the way who can offer advice throughout the process, from both a legal and practical perspective.

Airspace development is a specialist field which requires an appreciation and understanding of a number of aspects. This includes rights of first refusal for existing leaseholders, rights of light and air and practical considerations such as rights required to access the roof and start construction. By breaking down some of the key considerations, we aim to simplify these complex issues and unlock opportunities that may not have previously been considered. 

The key considerations laid out below will be useful for property owners as well as developers, leaseholders and financiers. No matter how tall or small the level of advice you require, our team of experts are here to help.

Some of the key aspects you should consider when developing airspace include the following:

  • Identify who owns the airspace
  • Existing leaseholders' rights
  • Planning
  • Technical feasibility
  • Lender consent
  • Lender requirements for development finance
  • Refurbishment of building
  • Tax
  • Collateral warranties and other construction matters
  • Selling or leasing the new units once constructed
  • Ongoing management of the building following construction

At Howard Kennedy, our team of experts can assist in advising on any of these aspects and are able to offer flexible and efficient solutions to get your development "off the ground".

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