Rooftop homes receive £9m cash boost from government

31st January, 2019

Homes England has struck a three-year, £9 million deal with developer Apex Airspace to build 78 homes on rooftops across London.

The government's 'housing accelerator' said the modular units would be built on five sites across the capital and would be mainly constructed offsite 'before being winched on top of buildings, minimising disruption to residents'.

In 2016 HTA Design drew up a study for the developer which claimed that London had capacity for 140,000 rooftop homes (see Can rooftop extensions help solve the housing crisis?).

Under new planning rules currently being mooted by government, architects will be allowed to extend buildings upwards without planning permission under a proposed widening of permitted development rights.

The sites earmarked for the new rooftop properties by the so-called 'airspace development pioneer' will be built in Tooting, Wanstead, Walthamstow, Putney and Wallington.

According to the government, the £9 million handout will 'enable the offsite construction of the homes prior to transportation' to the sites, where they will be lifted on by crane.


Sketches by HTA Design for Apex Airspace development study in 2016 

Homes England chairman, Edward Lister said: 'I welcome the new strategic partners who share our ambition to build better homes faster.

'Our new ways of working with the sector mean that housing associations can use their funding flexibly across their development programmes and respond quickly to local housing demand and a changing market.'

However, the Town and Country Planning Association (TCPA) said it was concerned about the 'hidden impacts' of the government's proposals, and that its exploitation of permitted development rights would result in no contribution to affordable housing despite 'the large sums of public finance' involved.

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.'

He added: 'We must encourage offsite construction as part of the solution to the housing crisis, but rather through a holistic and sustainable approach to creating great places, not as part of this loophole. It is also vital that offsite 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.'

The rooftop windfall was announced as part of a wider package of funding unveiled by communities secretary James Brokenshire yesterday (30 January).

The minister said that £497 million would be spent building more than 11,000 affordable properties across the country as the government gears up towards building 300,000 properties a year by the mid 2020s.

The money will be released through strategic partnerships agreed by Homes England, allowing 'successful housing associations the freedom to spend the money on the developments where it can have the biggest impact'.


Sketches by HTA Design for Apex Airspace development study in 2016 

Original link - Architects Journal

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