Skyroom, the technology, design, and development company, today announces that the London Borough of Lambeth and the London Borough of Waltham Forest are the successful applicants to its Key Worker Homes Fund (the “Fund”).[i]
The £100 million Fund offers London’s Local Authorities and Housing Associations technical expertise and capital to deliver airspace developments above buildings in their portfolio. It was launched by Skyroom in March 2021 to help landowners achieve their ambitious housing delivery targets,[ii] using sites they already own.
Over 40 sites were submitted to the Fund’s Board of Commissioners for consideration.[iii] The Commissioners — which include Professor Sadie Morgan, Sir Steve Bullock, and Baroness Doreen Lawrence — selected the most impactful developments, defined as the number of new homes that can be delivered, their affordability, and the benefits to existing residents and local communities. These comprise a 5-storey residential building in Lambeth, and several low-rise residential buildings within an estate in Waltham Forest.
Early-stage designs indicate that over 111 new homes could be delivered across the two sites: 23 in Lambeth and 88 in Waltham Forest. Responding to a shortage of family-sized homes, both proposals include a mix of 1-bed, 2-bed, and 3-bed flats. At least 50% of new homes would be affordable and allocated to key workers as a priority group.[iv] 23% of working residents in Lambeth and 32% in Waltham Forest are key workers, according to data recently published by the Mayor of London.[v]
The proposed airspace developments fast-track essential maintenance work, allowing the building owners to re-invest the savings back into housing delivery. A retrofit programme to better insulate the existing buildings improves their energy efficiency and the living environment for existing residents. Interventions on a larger scale considered in early-stage designs include new lifts to make upper storeys accessible for buggy or wheelchair users, solar panels and heat pumps to reduce dependence on the gas grid, and shared gardens both at ground level and on the new rooftops.
Skyroom is now working in partnership with each Local Authority with the view to submit outline planning permission later in the year. The Fund reserves capital to co-invest in construction and development.
Chair of the Key Worker Homes Fund, Arthur Kay, said: “Lambeth and Waltham Forest are demonstrating a practical solution to address London’s chronic shortage of housing. By creating new homes in the airspace above existing buildings, landowners can overcome the cost and scarcity of land and deliver sustainable, affordable homes within a shorter time frame.”
Sir Steve Bullock, Chair of the Housing and Finance Institute and Commissioner of the Key Worker Homes Fund added: “Skyroom’s proposals present a compelling route to help Local Authorities meet their urgent housing needs. A proactive programme of capital works is doubly important now, given the environmental imperatives we face.”
Claire Bennie, Director of Municipal and Commissioner of the Key Worker Homes Fund, said: “Housing providers are faced with mounting retrofit and repair costs. These airspace development proposals demonstrate how these costs can be cross-subsidised by affordable housing delivery.”
Cllr Simon Miller, Portfolio Lead Member for Economic Prosperity at the London Borough of Waltham Forest added: “Skyroom’s solution is a win-win-win for Waltham Forest, our residents, and local communities. We can direct this investment to improve, protect, and modernise buildings in our portfolio. New homes can be offered to families and key workers on our housing waiting list.”
Project Teams for shortlisted applications:
Development Manager: Skyroom
Architect: Reed Watts
Structural Engineer: Davies Maguire
Planning Consultant: DP9
Daylight & Sunlight Surveyor: Daylight & Sunlight Consulting
[iv] A list of key worker occupations was published by The Mayor of London. https://www.london.gov.uk/press-releases/mayoral/mayors-new-key-worker-list-for-priority-housing
[v] Percentages are rounded up to the nearest whole number. Source: https://www.london.gov.uk/press-releases/mayoral/mayors-new-key-worker-list-for-priority-housing