International property consultancy Knight Frank has concluded that at least 41,000 new homes could be built in central London without changing the city’s celebrated skyline.
Using geospatial mapping software, the study found that over 28 million square feet of additional residential area could potentially be developed by building upwards or converting existing loft spaces. This added loft conversion space had a potential value of £51 billion.
The project was initiated after the UK Government announced in its 2017 Housing White Paper that it was looking ways to build on ‘airspace’ above existing buildings.
The goal of the research project was to seek opportunities for additional housing in urban locations, especially in places where the buildings could be extended upwards. Knight Frank developed a system of analysing each building’s potential and called it ‘SKYWARD’. This program examined 3D spatial data collected from the Ordnance Survey, cross-referencing Historic England data to eliminate listed buildings and Land Registry information to evaluate ownerships.
The study concluded that around 23,000 buildings in Zones 1 and 2 were viable for loft conversions. Volume-wise, the unused plots in the same area equalled eight Burj Khalifa towers (which stands 830 metres high) without affecting the London skyline.
Charles Dugdale, Knight Frank Residential Development partner, said that Skyward was a potent tool for identifying additional development opportunities and making more homes available, especially in those areas where land availability is minimal. It can also add an objective aspect to planning decisions.