Realising the value of Airspace Development

1st August 2022

Airspace Developer

A relaxation of the planning rules in 2020, allowing rooftop extensions of up to two storeys without full planning permission, has seen more and more freeholders and leaseholder groups take an interest in airspace development.

A relaxation of the planning rules in 2020, allowing rooftop extensions of up to two storeys without full planning permission, has seen more and more freeholders and leaseholder groups take an interest in airspace development.

Freeholders have seen the potential to increase the overall value of their property by building upwards themselves or have sought to sell this asset to a third party to then develop. To do this the freeholder must serve a Section 5 notice on the leaseholders which can sometimes be unsettling if there has been no prior consultation.

For leaseholders though airspace development brings many benefits including building improvements such as the ability to finance and install a new roof, upgrades to communal areas, replacement of lifts and important fire safety improvements. In addition, through the creation of more apartments the service charge can be split amongst more units so leaseholders should enjoy a reduction in their management charge.

However, airspace development is a nascent industry and has unique challenges not faced by ground up developments. From ensuring the project is feasible, from both a structural and financial point of view, to the additional health and safety considerations needed when building above existing homes, the complexity of airspace means that realising the value of a building’s ‘air-rights’ needs to be a very considered decision. No freeholder or leaseholder group wants to waste money on an unimplementable airspace project, it needs to be buildable and also fundable.

With multiple consultants working across our developments, we have access to a wide range of specialists as well as our own experienced internal team, so we can unlock complex engineering solutions, ensure fire safety and planning regulations are met and that the appropriate funding and legal arrangements are all in place. We are also a founding member of the Association of Rooftop and Airspace Development which works to promote learning and best practice within the industry.

The opportunities airspace development presents are many, from helping to solve London’s housing shortage in an innovative and sustainable way to the more individual benefits felt by freeholders, leaseholders and residents but these can only ever be fully realised with an experienced and specialist airspace developer by your side.