The solution to London’s housing shortage could be right above our heads. Across the capital, unused loft spaces above converted period houses are being sold off for development — sometimes for just a few thousand pounds.
Auction House London will sell the loft space above a converted house in Greyhound Lane, Streatham Common next week. The building’s freeholder hopes to get rid of it with a guide price of just £5,000.
Even tiny sites such as garages and small service roads in this area of south London can cost up to £200,000, says Auction House London’s Andrew Binstock.
“We are seeing a lot of this sort of thing coming up at auction. Leaseholders are selling the hope of potential future development and if a young buyer is brave and clever enough, and manages to get planning permission, this is a very cheap way on to the property ladder.”
Converting a loft into a self-contained home is a complex legal process, fraught with pitfalls. The local authority would need to grant planning permission, and the freeholder plus owners of other leasehold flats within the property might also have to give consent, possibly for a payment.
The build itself, which would probably require the extension of the communal staircase to give independent access to the attic, would be more complex than a regular loft conversion and could cost three or four times as much.
Nonetheless, one-bedroom flats around Streatham Common currently sell for about £350,000. Anyone who could secure the attic for close to the guide price and negotiate the legal hurdles could make a substantial saving on building a flat, or could simply sell it on and pocket a profit.
In Battersea, Chestertons is selling a roof space with planning consent and freeholder permission to add a two-bedroom flat, for £495,000. And in Hanwell, Haart is marketing a loft above a Victorian house with permission to convert to a one-bedroom flat, for £165,000.
Binstock says freeholders are also getting wise to the idea of selling basement space, again with a view to buyers being able to construct a lower ground-floor flat. “We have a client who has done this and has got planning permission. It can work but it is a risk without planning,” adds Binstock.
The Greyhound Lane attic will be sold at the London Marriott Hotel Regent’s Park on Wednesday, January 22.