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Aim High for Increased Residential Yields Thanks to New Planning Rules

Blog | 20.07.20 | 0 comments

Creating enough homes in London for the people who want to live in the city has been a challenge for some time. Development plots can be hard to come by and the best locations are often already taken. Now as part of the Government’s stimulus measures to boost the construction sector following the COVID-19 pandemic, new planning legislation will come into force on 1 August making it much easier to extend existing residential buildings. The move will create new homes for people and new opportunities for developers.

It’s an excellent way to create new liveable spaces without any additional land or change of use challenges. But what do developers need to consider, and how can Edgeley Construction help?

 

Deciphering the New Rules

The first thing to understand is, while they will provide a significant boost to what’s possible in terms of extending upwards, the new rules do not provide carte blanche to additional storeys to any building.

The planning relaxation is quite specific in its scope and applies only to adding an extra two storeys to existing residential buildings constructed after July 1948 and before March 2018. This means that residential levels cannot simply be added to commercial buildings, and any pre-1948 or recently completed residential buildings would have to go through the normal planning process for additional storeys to be agreed.

There are also rules regarding the height of eligible buildings. Only residential buildings of three storeys or more fall within the new guidelines and, regardless of the number of storeys, the completed project must not exceed 30 metres in height.

There are exceptions relating to sites of special historic interest too, so it’s unlikely that this will throw open new opportunities to build taller than the local context in conservation areas, for example. Approvals will also be subject to the usual local authority considerations of local infrastructure and considerations such as the effects of proposed new levels on sunlight and privacy for neighbours will also influence the viability of proposals, so agreement will, by no means, be automatic.

The bottom line, however, is that this is a significant move towards making extending upwards much easier for developers and building owners, creating opportunities for more saleable/rentable space and an improved yield on existing buildings. The key to capitalising on that opportunity will be working with a construction company with experience of building new levels on existing properties.

 

Finding the Right Construction Partner for the job

At Edgeley Construction, building upwards has been a significant part of what we do for decades. From adding penthouses, to creating multiple additional storeys, we know how successful these projects can be – and how challenging.

From our work at 208 Long Lane, where we added a large penthouse to an existing former printworks as part of a conversion to residential, to 124-128 Brixton Hill where a lightweight unit enabled us to maximise the yield from a confined site, we have created new accommodation at high level for all kinds of buildings. Our portfolio ranges from contemporary residential buildings through to heritage buildings that we have transformed, both by a full refurbishment of the existing and thanks to the addition of extra storeys.

It’s this varied experience that makes us the ideal construction partner for developers and building owners that want to take advantage of the new rules for adding extra storeys to residential buildings. It means that we can provide valuable advice on buildability and the best approach, providing a turnkey design and build package if required.

 

Factors to consider when adding extra storeys

The most significant factor to consider when making decisions about the design and viability of a rooftop extension is the loading capabilities of the existing structure and substructure. If the building has a lightweight frame, careful consideration needs to be given to the structural loading of the extension because it needs to work within the limits of the existing building to avoid any expensive and time-consuming reinforcement.

The impact of natural light on adjacent buildings, the effects on drainage infrastructure and the roofline of surrounding properties are also key considerations. Often, the extension needs to be set back from the main elevation to reduce the impact on the existing building or enable natural light to reach neighbouring properties.

At Edgeley Construction, our experience in rooftop extensions means that we’re able to advise developers about the potential solutions suitable for specific buildings as part of their viability analysis. Early engagement with a contractor with our expertise in this kind of projects means that time and cost savings can be made by developing a suitable design from the outset.

Often this involves an MMC (modern methods of construction) or a modular unit fabricated off-site and we can help developers navigate through the options to decide on an approach that’s right for the building, the required length of programme and the available budget.

Indeed, on many rooftop extension projects, we offer a turnkey design and build solution, which includes all pre-construction considerations, health and safety and method planning, construction and fit out.

 

Maximising the Opportunity

For many developers and building owners with existing residential properties in their portfolio, the relaxed planning rules coming into force on 1 August are a golden opportunity to increase the yield of existing assets. With our know-how, we can ensure that opportunity is maximised.

 

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