Southwark Council raises the roof with new development principles

19 September 2019

Southwark Council has outlined its plans to introduce a set of principles, or promises to residents, that will guide a proposed bespoke programme of rooftop development aiming to provide vital new council housing.

Southwark is facing an acute housing need with over 12,000 families on the waiting list for housing and over 2,000 children currently living in temporary accommodation. The council has one of the most ambitious council house building programmes in the country with a commitment to build 11,000 brand new council homes by 2043.

Over 600 council homes have already been delivered, and more are on the horizon, but with available land in short supply the council is now looking at new and innovative ways to build more housing, including a special focus on unlocking potentially hundreds of new homes with upward extensions on existing blocks.

But the council is also aware of the impact this will have on people living in the affected buildings and has drafted a series of principles and commitments to maximise the benefits and minimise the impacts on residents.

Cllr Leo Pollak, Cabinet Member for Social Regeneration, Great Estates and New Homes, said: “Rooftop housing has a great potential to not only deliver hundreds of high quality new council homes and improve existing homes, but also to help de-carbonise the development supply chain. 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.

“Unlocking a new dimension of council housing supply like this is not going to be straightforward, but we are driven by the potential for hundred, potentially thousands of new council homes in our borough. We plan to offer a quicker on-site construction time by doing most of the building off-site, first refusal on the new homes to those living underneath, and improvements to the existing block, with any costs associated with the new homes - such as a new roof, lift and landscaping - 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.”
One of the ways the council is promising to minimise the impact of existing residents is to build rooftop homes in a modular form off-site and craning them onto adapted blocks, significantly shortening the time construction is on site.

Residents living immediately underneath the new homes will be given the first opportunity to move into them, so people previously living on the top floor will have the chance to stay on the top floor and in a brand new home. The vacated properties will them be made available to those on the waiting list.
The development principles were iscussed at the Cabinet meeting on Tuesday 17 September. The full report is available online.

Southwark’s offer to residents affected by Rooftop development

  1. Building the homes off-site so the on-site installation on adapted blocks is as brief as possible
  2. First dibs on the new homes to all residents living immediately underneath them (including an offer to leaseholders to ‘move their equity upstairs’), with newly vacated homes made available to the wider housing register
  3. Accompanying improvements to the existing block, with any new roof, lift or landscaping directly associated with the building of the rooftop homes, non-rechargeable to leaseholders

Page last updated: 19 September 2019