Brickflow Guide to Air Rights


The Brickflow Property Developer Guides are to help unblur the lines, break through the jargon and explain the process in words you won’t need to google.

If we’ve missed anything or you’d like us to explain more, please contact us.

Developers who are going up in the world need to know about how their air rights impact them and their neighbours.

Most developers think about extending outwards to take advantage of the available space for a project and overlook exploiting what’s above.

Air rights mean the sky’s no longer a limit for developers – although planners will inevitably have their say about how high you can go.

1. Air rights explained

2. How high can you go?

3. Putting a price on air rights

4. Right to light

5. Air rights – a lender’s view

6. Air rights FAQ

Who decides if a building is suitable for air rights development?
This is a question for expert structural engineers. They should carry out a detailed inspection at the earliest stages of development to calculate if a building is strong enough to support the additional weight of an air rights development.

Can leaseholders build above a property rented to tenants?
Strictly speaking, the freeholder retains the right to build into the air space above the land they own. However, if the property earmarked for air rights development is tenanted, the freeholder should discuss the plans with the tenant to avoid unpleasantness and costly legal arguments.

How high can I build?
Although your air rights extend to at least 500 feet, you can’t go that high without planning permission.
How high you can build depends on the size and location of your plot and the likely impact on the neighbourhood.

Do I automatically own air rights, or do I have to register for them?
Air rights come with the freehold of your land, which includes any buildings, fixtures, mineral rights and air rights, subject to certain conditions. You do not have to register or pay any fees to own them, especially if you already own the land in question.

How do I deal with the right to light?
One way is to apply the 45-degree rule, which basically says an extension should not encroach over a line drawn at 45 degrees from the centre of the nearest window in a habitable room on the ground-floor of a neighbouring property.

How much are air rights worth in the UK?
The market is largely untested and until sellers start charging a premium for air rights, the price is likely to remain up in the air, so to speak.