A housing shortage and limited available land means we have to build up with new rooftop extensions, says Southwark Council.
The local authority has a target of building 11,000 new social homes by 2043, and says 600 new properties have already been constructed.
But all the time it is losing stock through right-to-buy – and past estate regenerations have also reduced the number of family-sized homes.
Councillor Leo Pollak – Southwark Council’s Cabinet Member for new council homes, said building extensions on existing council blocks could unlock “potentially hundreds of new homes” – and all without the huge price tag associated with trying to buy prime Southwark real estate on the open market.
“We’ve spoken to residents about the opportunities and challenges linked to rooftop housing and 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.”
The council promises to keep disruption to a minimum by using “modular” homes built off site and then craning them into place, give people on the existing top floor first dibs on the new, highest flat, and keep any estate-wide improvements as part of the new build non-rechargeable to leaseholders.
Cllr Pollak went on to say: “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.”
Speaking on behalf of Southwark’s Liberal Democrat councillors, Hamish McCallum said a good consultation with residents was key.
“We strongly support any alternative initiatives to achieve more housing in Southwark such as utilising rooftops as long as these are done sensitively and bring benefits for existing tenants and leaseholders,” he told the News.
“As Liberal Democrats we believe that co-design with and early, meaningful engagement with residents leads to the best outcomes. This means proper consideration and consultation with all impacted residents both in the building and surrounding neighbours.
“This is a key area the council must improve on especially on planning and looking after all residents during any disruption.”