L+ Architects

Airspace Development – What the change in planning means to developers

What is an Airspace Development?

An Airspace Development is building one or two storeys on top of an existing apartment block of no more than 3 metres.

What are the associated problems of Airspace Development?

Leaseholders have the right to refuse purchase: the new change in planning is not pertinent to Conservation areas or Green Belts; tenants in the blocks do not want scaffolding for a lengthy period, there are services in the roof that need relocation and

Who can consider an Airspace Development?

Airspace development is not simply the domain of institutional property owners, as freehold owners of multi-occupied properties (whether owners of a building subject to long leases, or indeed residents in blocks of flats with shared ownership) are also increasingly finding ways to exploit value in their properties. Many developers and block owners will be looking at this new opportunity to convert unused airspace above existing blocks into something more valuable.

The recent changes are summarised as follows:

What makes airspace developments different?

For any development, you will need the space (land), services, funding, and then construction.

In airspace developments, however, there are further considerations:

Construction considerations


Legal issues and practical solutions – existing tenants and their leases

Not surprisingly, a roof top development scheme may well be met by resistance from resident tenants and neighbouring property owners who will have concerns as to the noise and disruption caused and possible effect on the enjoyment of their property, availability of
amenities such as car parking, and the effect on value.

One of the sweeteners could be the offer of a newly refurbished building exterior and communal areas including lifts and staircases and of course a new roof – all undertaken outside of the service charge regime. Whatever arrangement is arrived at needs to be documented with the party responsible for the maintenance and repair of communal areas, which could be the freeholder, management company or the tenants themselves.

Offering to extend the leases for the existing tenants and even a profit share with the leaseholders are other incentives to leaseholders which a freeholder or developer may be able to offer. Whatever the deal there are legal constraints which need to be understood and
correctly dealt with. In the case of neighbours, as with any development, restrictive covenants, rights of light and party wall legislation need to be taken into account and managed at an early stage.

Checking the leases

First refusal to tenants

The freeholder must consider Section 4 of the Landlord and Tenant Act 1987 considering selling or leasing. The leaseholders will have the right to first refusal and the lease will have to be offered first to any qualifying tenants on the same terms & price as the developers.

Collective enfranchisement

First Steps to start Airspace Development:

Contact L+ Architects on 07980 311708 or on our contact form to arrange a no-obligation telephone consultation

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