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What is Rooftop Development?

New solutions are needed to tackle the UK’s lack of available housing. And one method, as identified in a 2017 Housing White Paper, could be rooftop development.

Rooftop development is a new and innovative way to utilise our cities skylines and increase housing stock in major cities.

What is rooftop development?

Also known as airspace development, rooftop development is essentially building on top of existing properties.

Usually, they sit atop existing apartment blocks, buildings where there are already shared facilities and commercial or mixed-use premises.

Across the US and parts of Europe, rooftop developments are common in densely populated urban areas. However, this type of development has only recently started to take off in the UK.

Rooftop Development in London

The Mayor of London’s office recently outlined a requirement for 66,000 new homes to be built every year.

Therefore, rooftop development alone won’t solve London’s housing needs but it can play a part. Many residential buildings across the capital, could benefit from just an additional single storey. Creating new homes, enhancing the building for existing residents, and potentially leading to an increase in the property’s value.

Can you build upwards on all properties?

Simply put, no. Developers have to assess the building’s potential suitability, considering: the structural strength of the existing property, if services will extend new homes, and whether the new properties would have a means of escape.

What Happens?

Once a property is identified for rooftop development, plans are drawn up in consultation with leaseholders and the freeholder.

The planning process can take around three months to a year, over that time answers are provided to local planners with questions or concerns.

Builds take around 8 months, with most work carried out off-site. Enhancements are made to the existing building, including new lifts, updated communal areas, changes to parking, and repairs.

Modules are built elsewhere and transported to the site to be hoisted onto the roof by crane. Installation takes a few days.

Then, the new properties are put up for sale, if they haven’t already been sold off-plan.

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