What is airspace development?

With the high demand for housing across the UK but a lack of supply, an innovative solution is airspace development. Instead of needing to find land to build more homes on, existing rooftops can be utilised. That way, building work goes upwards instead of encroaching on new areas, providing a sustainable solution to the housing crisis.

What is airspace development?

Airspace development involves the creation of new homes in unused space on the rooftops of existing buildings. The use of modern materials and the latest construction techniques mean the homes can be built cost-effectively and quickly. Often, the manufacturing of an airspace home can be conducted off-site. It can then be constructed very quickly on the designated rooftop. This ensures that there is minimal disruption to the current occupiers as well as the surrounding community.

Sustainable development

Airspace development is sustainable compared with other methods used for building homes across the UK. As it uses the available space on rooftops, it means that green belt land isn’t encroached upon. Instead of falling into disrepair, the existing buildings are enhanced. This can be done by bringing them up to the latest health and safety design standards, for example, and improving the communal areas for the residents. This not only helps to preserve and improve the existing properties but it also prevents older properties from being demolished. From airspace developers’ points of view, it also increases the saleability of the properties.

The benefits of airspace development

In cities where space is at a premium, such as London, airspace development makes sense. Using existing structures negates the need to find more land to build on. And those buildings are preserved and improved. The airspace development must respect the architecture of the building so that it causes minimal disruption in the eyes of the local community and to the London skyline, for example. Airspace developments are beneficial for existing owners as well as the community.

Benefits for existing owners

For existing owners, there are various benefits that make airspace developments worth considering:

  • The existing building is enhanced
  • Freeholders receive an extra income
  • The values of the leaseholds increase
  • Maintenance and service charge expenses are reduced
  • The modern construction techniques used mean there is minimal disruption

Benefits for the community

The community also benefits greatly from airspace property developments:

  • There is a substantial increase in the number of new homes available.
  • Whilst the density of housing increases, there is minimal impact from the construction work and minimal impact visually.
  • The existing buildings are preserved. This, in turn, ensures that the occupants can stay where they are.
  • As existing buildings are prevented from falling into disrepair, this reduces the number of properties that are demolished.

Planning permission for an airspace development

Permitted development rights for airspace developments were changed in 2020. This was done to ensure that projects meeting the criteria can proceed quickly. The criteria relate to buildings that are at least three storeys high and were originally constructed as purpose-built blocks of flats. The criteria also stipulate when the buildings had to have been constructed, different height restrictions after development and the absence of any support structure that’s visible externally after the project has been completed. Airspace developers in London, Kent and Edinburgh can, therefore, plan ahead with certainty if their project meets the set criteria.

Secure funding for your airspace development

Airspace development in London and other dense cities provides an innovative and sustainable solution to the housing crisis. As a developer, it provides you with a good investment opportunity as a vast amount of unused space is unlocked.

Our mortgage brokers can help you to secure the funding you need to finance your airspace project. Just give us a call on 01322 907 000 to discuss an airspace development loan as well as alternative funding methods available. As a niche development area, we will present your tailor-made application to a specialist lender, allowing you to benefit from flexible lending terms.

If you need help with funding your airspace development, we can advise you on the various schemes available. The Help to Build: Equity Loan scheme, for example, provides you with an equity loan towards the cost of your airspace development project.