Will property extension laws be the best thing since sliced bread?

Luke Smith is director of development and investment consultancy Avory Smith (Pictured, right, with Paul Saker, construction director)

The government, in a bid to address the ‘housing crisis’, recently announced new airspace development laws. Essentially what this means is that from August 1st, you will be able to extend blocks of flats upwards by two storeys without the need for planning permission.

Those who have cleverly snapped up freehold ground rent investments over the years are now sitting on a potential goldmine of previously undevelopable space.

Although local authorities will still take into consideration the usual transport and highways impacts as well as other hoops to jump through to get prior approval. It’s also important to note these new rules only apply to blocks built between 1 July 1948 and 5 March 2018.

An idea that has long been considered, finally coming to fruition in perhaps one of the most delicate economical periods of most of our adult lives is nothing short of a marvel. In a recent article I conveyed my delight with the Conservative government’s support, infrastructure and adaption that has come in to play since the beginning of the Covid-19 debacle.

In February 2017, a research paper from Knight Frank had highlighted that over 40,000 new dwellings in Central London could be developed using these rooftop development spaces. Culminating in an estimated value of £51bn of previously impossible residential development.

Avory Smith is no strangers to airspace development under the previous laws. Our construction director Paul Saker was involved in a landmark modular rooftop development for The Hilton Hotel Group at their flagship Hotel on Park Lane.

I personally see this move requiring sensitivity in order to keep demand aligned with supply. Appreciating the lack of available, affordable, and regional property is one thing. But in Prime Central London boroughs a lack of newly developed space is what kept prices so high in comparison to the rest of the country.

One thing we can be sure of, is that this new initiative will surely deliver higher quality apartment living than some of the converted office blocks we’ve seen under recent permitted development laws, which have unfortunately in many cases, been substandard and altogether dismal.

David Rusholme FRICS, the board advisor to Avory Smith called a meeting today to address a strategy moving forward into airspace development. Given his understanding of the London Boroughs, coupled with Paul Saker’s modular rooftop experience, our company moving in to this space at speed is a no brainer!