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Through Chilton Grove, Southwark Council invests in airspace and rooftop development

Wednesday 20th May 2020
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We have recently discussed how airspace and rooftop development can help to tackle the current UK housing crisis, and last year brought some great news in that regard. Southwark Council, back in September 2019, outlined its plans when it comes to providing new council housing. Rooftop development was introduced to residents through a set of principles that will shape a new bespoke programme, which will be totally focused on upward extensions. The reason why the Council started exploring such modern methods of construction is simple: even though 600 council homes have already been delivered, over 12,000 families are on the waiting list for housing and over 2,000 children are currently living in temporary accommodation. Rooftop development can definitely contribute to the council house building program, which aims to build 11,000 brand new council homes by 2043.


The Chilton Grove building, which was traditionally built, is currently preparing itself to accommodate 44 additional homes on top of a four-storey block. Fuse Architects, recently rebranded from MDR Associates, is behind the new development’s design. Planning was submitted back in Summer 2016, and approved in Winter 2018. According to a newsletter from December last year, works are expected to be completed by February 2021. This was the seventh monthly newsletter sent to residents with all relevant updates, including some photographs of the construction site.

Dave Hughes, design director of Fuse Architects, told Architects Journal that this rooftop development is part of a more comprehensive proposal from Southwark’s Council: “It works that Southwark is trying to roll it into other work, such as new landscaping. It’s not just coming along, craning on a storey and wandering away, it’s part of a wider upgrade”. A good example of how rooftop development not only focuses on new homes, but also overall quality of life for all residents — existing and future ones.

All updates can be tracked via the Council’s official website. Click here to view.


Cllr Leo Pollak, Cabinet Member for Social Regeneration, Great Estates and New Homes, commented about the advantages of implementing modular housing, and how residents welcomed the Council’s plans. “Rooftop housing has a great potential to not only deliver hundreds of high-quality new council homes and improve existing ones, but also to help de-carbonise the development supply chain”, he explained. “We’ve spoken to existing residents about the opportunities and challenges linked to rooftop housing. The kind of preferences that were raised were things like their desire to remain on the top floor, being prioritised for the new homes and improvements being made to the rest of the block”.

Mr Pollak also outlined other aspects of Southwark’s Council current take on airspace development:

• “We plan to offer a quicker on-site construction time by doing most of the building off-site”,

• “We will offer first refusal on the new homes to those living underneath” (so all people previously living on the top floor will have the chance to stay on the top floor, in a brand new home),

• “All improvements made to the existing blocks, with any costs associated with the new homes — such as a new roof, lift and landscaping — will be non-rechargeable to leaseholders”,

• “We are also developing an accompanying rooftop design guide that will detail some of the best options to complement and enhance an existing block well, maximise internal living and amenity space and solutions for connecting new homes to existing services”.

A complete report on the Cabinet’s meeting which discussed modular developments can be accessed via this link.


Recent data shows that London Boroughs spent approximately £731m on Temporary accommodation in 2018. Laith Mubarak, Acquisitions Director at CLICK and a field expert, confirms that working alongside councils is highly beneficial. "By partnering with Click Above and utilising our bespoke offsite modular system, not only will they be able to house those in need, but also regenerate estates as part of the process. It is quite simply a win-win for all involved in the process", he said.

As developer Apex Airspace recently published, there are already 180,000 spaces identified for airspace homes across London. This certainly proves that airspace and rooftop development will become an even more relevant topic as the housing crisis unfolds.