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Government announces five upward extension developments for the capital

Words: Laura Edgar
Housebuilding / iStock

Homes will be built on the top of London rooftops by the summer. Homes England has agreed a £9 million funding deal with an airspace developer.

The properties will be built across five sites. According to a Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government (MHCLG) statement, the extensions, to be delivered by Apex Airspace Developments, will largely be constructed off-site before being installed on top of buildings to minimise disruption to residents.

The revised National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF), which was published last year, states that planning policies and decisions should “support opportunities to use the airspace above existing residential and commercial premises for new homes”.

MHCLG says the first 38 homes will be completed by the summer. In total 78 units will be delivered under the three-year deal. The rooftop properties will be built in Tooting, Wanstead, Walthamstow, Putney and Wallington.

The money comes from the government’s £4.5 billion Home Building Fund.

Arshad Bhatti, chief executive officer at Apex, commented: “Apex has invested heavily in airspace development and our research shows the potential for up to 180,000 new homes in London alone.”

He welcomed Homes England's “positive and supportive approach to delivering innovative solutions to the housing challenge”.

The strategic partnerships - which represent the third wave - have been agreed with:

* Bromford
* Curo & Swan
* Liverpool Mutual Homes & Torus
* Longhurst & Nottingham Community Housing Association
* Together Housing
* Walsall Housing Group
* Yorkshire Housing
* Your Housing Group

Speaking at the London First Building Summit today (30 January), housing secretary James Brokenshire also announced that nearly £497 million will be spent on delivering 11,000 affordable properties. Strategic partnerships between Homes England and a number of housing associations aim to give the housing associations freedom to spend the money on the developments where they can have the biggest impact.

Brokenshire said: “By providing targeted investment in affordable homes, and funding innovative projects to build rooftop properties, we are making our housing market work for everyone.

“Our £500 million funding boost for housing associations will help them build thousands of extra affordable homes – including properties for social rent.

“These measures are all part of our plans to deliver 300,000 homes a year by the mid-2020s.”


Earlier in January, the RTPI warned that permitted development rights for upwards extensions put quality and affordability at risk. The RTPI believes that permitted development rights carry serious financial implications for local authorities because they would not be able to collect planning fees and developer contributions for affordable housing and infrastructure. The institute maintains that permitted development rights are designed for simple or minor changes, not new developments on this scale, which should be subject to full local planning scrutiny.

Many other organisations share the same concerns. The Town and Country Planning Association (TCPA), the Civic Voice and the Bath Preservation Trust said permitted development for upward extensions, and for high streets, will result in poor-quality development.

Speaking to The Planner about the five upward extension developments in London, the TCPA said it is concerned about the "hidden impacts". Contributions to affordable housing, schools and open spaces will not be required. The charity notes that given 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.

Henry Smith, projects and policy manager at the TCPA, said : "Good place making 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. It is also vital that off-site homes are built to robust design and space standards, which are sorely missing from the examples of very poor quality homes that we have seen in permitted development from former offices."

Read more:

High street permitted developments ‘fly in face of democracy’

Organisations warn against poor design resulting from permitted development

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