Homes to be winched onto London’s rooftops to tackle housing shortage

Homes will be winched onto rooftops to help tackle London’s housing shortage, after Homes England agreed a £9m funding deal with Apex Airspace Developments.

The properties, which will be built on five sites across the capital, are largely constructed off-site before being moved on top of buildings with a crane, which is said to minimise disruption to residents.

The first of the homes will be completed by the summer, and in total 78 rooftop homes will be built under the three-year deal. Homes England says all homes will be priced within the Help to Buy threshold.

The Government’s revised planning framework, published last year, encourages authorities to promote the use the airspace above existing residential and commercial premises for new homes.

On Apex’s website, they say they, ‘purchase airspace rights from private and institutional freeholders, retailers, local councils and housing associations and convert the space into apartments – generating potential high returns for property investors and freeholders.’

Communities Secretary James Brokenshire said at the London First Building Summit this morning (January 30): ‘By providing targeted investment in affordable homes, and funding innovative projects to build rooftop properties, we are making our housing market work for everyone.’

The announcement was welcomed by Jasmine Whitebread, chief executive of London First, who said: ‘We’ve long called for the need to use the land we have more intensively including delivering homes across London’s rooftops.

‘We now need everyone to take their share of the responsibility, so that a combination of more money, land, innovation and flexibility can come together to make a real difference for the capital.’

The rooftop properties will be built across five sites in the capital in Tooting, Wanstead, Walthamstow, Putney and Wallington.

The Town & Country Planning Association said they are ‘concerned’ about the hidden impacts of the proposals, and said rooftop style developments exploit a loophole in planning law.

Henry Smith, projects and policy manager at the TCPA, said: ‘The proposals intend to make use of the airspace above properties to install homes built off-site, via expanded permitted development rights. Without going through a planning application, no contributions are required to affordable housing, schools and open spaces.

‘Considering that large sums of public finance are being used to deliver these proposals, it is odd that the homes would not be required to contribute at all to help support underfunded local services.’

‘Good placemaking is about creating mixed communities where people can thrive. Our evidence shows that permitted development is simply a give away to the private sector because it delivers none of the infrastructure needed to support new development, despite putting more pressure on local services such as schools and hospitals.

‘We must encourage off-site construction as part of the solution to the housing crisis, but rather through an holistic and sustainable approach to creating great places, not as part of this loophole.’

Thomas Barrett

Thomas Barrett

Journalist. Follow him on Twitter

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