Why Both the Government and Sadiq Khan believe in Airspace Development

Both the current London Mayor and the UK government agree that solving the London housing crisis is an urgent issue.

In March, the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government reportedly proposed changes to the National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF) to make it easier to add up to two storeys to an existing building. It also resurrected the idea that permitted development exemptions from planning applications could also apply to rooftop additions. This means that airspace development is viewed by the Government as a key way to address the lack of housing, particularly here in the capital.

The Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, had already demonstrated his determination to get London building the homes it needs by ripping up existing planning rules and calling on homebuilders to develop sites at higher housing densities to substantially increase capacity in the capital.

In his new draft London Plan, the Mayor removed outdated constraints and rigid density guidelines which proved complicated and set maximum rules for the number of homes on developments, in favour of boosting the number of well-designed homes sites can deliver.Mr Khan apparently believes increased numbers of homes should be built on sites near town centres or good public transport, reducing the need for car parking spaces within developments. The London Plan says proposed development on sites that do not clearly maximise housing density should be refused and councils – working with developers and housing associations – should take a case-by-case approach to each site to determine its capacity based on surrounding infrastructure. In addition, it emphasises the importance of good design and will be applicable to buildings of all types, including low-rise, medium and high-rise.

It has been reported that new ambitious targets have been set for councils across the city, as part of an overall London Plan figure of 65,000 homes a year – roughly double the current rate of homebuilding.
Airspace development will play a vital role in achieving this. Recently, property consultancy Knight Frank cross-referenced Ordinance Survey and Land Registry data to create a detailed 3D model. Its analysis concluded that rooftops in London’s fare zones one and two alone had enough space to provide for 40,000 new homes.

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