Posts with tag: affordable housing London

Newspaper Readers Offer Opinions on London Graduate Housing Crisis

Recently, we reported that the high cost of housing in London is cutting many graduates from disadvantaged areas off from the best jobs. Now, newspaper readers have given their thoughts on the matter, and whether new student-style accommodation should be introduced in the capital.

Read our story here: /high-london-house-prices-are-cutting-graduates-off-from-best-jobs/

One reader, Adam from Nottinghamshire, calls the idea “ridiculous”.

He explains his reasoning: “The entire point of going to university and getting a good job is to have a good lifestyle.”

After graduating in 2012, Adam moved to London where he got a job in finance. However, he soon left, as, “despite earning a good salary”, he was “living like a student”.

Newspaper Readers Offer Opinions on London Graduate Housing Crisis

Newspaper Readers Offer Opinions on London Graduate Housing Crisis

He concludes: “Graduates don’t want student accommodation, they want high-quality housing for the next stage of their life.”1

David Craig graduated around two years ago. He currently works in central London, but must commute from nearby Essex, where he lives with his mum.

“I’m really eager to get my own property in London,” he says. “I look at apartment prices every day and I’m confused about how they can be considered affordable.”

Although he earns a good wage, he still can’t move into any of the “so-called affordable flats”1.

Eoin, in Leeds, is a little more blunt: “What’s the point of telling us about the housing situation in London when nobody is going to do a thing about it? We’ve known about this for years. It all feels a bit redundant to me.”1

And Mais, living in the capital, has a different approach: “People should stop complaining and concentrate on working hard.

“Many of us have come from deprived backgrounds but worked hard to buy our expensive homes.”

Mais’s motto? “You work hard, you get rewarded, you buy your house. London will always be expensive but so are many other cities of developed countries. Set your goals and go out to achieve them.”1

But graduate Mike, from Berkshire, is one of those affected by the capital’s house and rent prices.

“I have been in a graduate scheme for just over a year now and I am grateful to be working and living just outside London.

“The rent in the capital has been the biggest deterrent to living in London – the amount of money left after paying rent would not justify living there.”1

Eric Donjon’s daughter and her boyfriend are paying extortionate rent for a one-bedroom flat in Brixton. The apartment – the first that they’ve rented together – costs £1,750 per month.

He offers a solution: “In France, they have the Pinel Law, where a flat in a given zone area has a maximum rental value per square metre. Rents in the UK should be capped.”1

But Paul, from South Tyneside, has a different idea: “We need to start building more high-rise council flats and stop Right to Buy.”1

Chris Walters, in Oxford, addresses another affordability problem. He says that rail companies are stopping people commuting to the capital. He believes if the Government stops firms setting high fares, students could live in cheaper areas and travel into central London.

“I drive 80 miles a day into London and the combined cost of petrol, the congestion charge and parking is still cheaper than the rail fare,”1 he explains.

1 Various (2015) ‘We don’t need your student digs, thanks’, Metro, September 18, p.20

Portable Homes Popular at London Design Festival

A celebration of creativity in the design industry, the London Design Festival is currently focusing on the crisis affecting the capital – housing. Innovative designers are presenting ways to tackle the shortage of affordable homes.

Space and costs are the issues affecting many Londoners today, making portable new homes popular at the festival.

The Decorex trade interiors exhibition, from 20th-23rd September, will host the launch of Bert & May’s first box house at Syon Park, West London.

The Bigger Box, part of the interior design firm’s prefabricated home range, is factory-built within 14 weeks and assembled on site in just a day. All buyers need to do is find the land or a flat roof.

Co-founder of Bert & May, Lee Thornley, explains: “We wanted to recognise that space itself is a big thing. And prefab has had the association of being cheap and lacking in design.

“The boxes were born out of a desire to provide really amazing prefabricated living spaces.”1 

The 540 square foot home will be displayed at the entrance to Decorex, where the public date is Tuesday 22nd September. Interested buyers can contact Bert & May for tickets and book a private tour of the home, which has two bedrooms, an open-plan kitchen/living area and a bathroom.

The box house on show will be auctioned at the event by sealed bid with a strong reserve price. The new owner can expect delivery within a week. Visit the company’s website for more information:

In Bloomsbury, two recycled shipping containers have been converted into an energy-efficient smart home installation, providing around 310 square foot of living space and costing about £25,000 to build.

Named A New House for London, it has been fitted with voice activation systems and automated lighting. It will be displayed on Store Street, WC1, from 21st-27th September.

The interactive prototype is perfect for daring Londoners who wish to build their own homes for a much smaller price, now that planning rules are being relaxed and building on brownfield sites is supported.

The property was designed and backed by planning and engineering firm Arup, Carl Turner Architects and The Building Centre. Brazilian mining and tech business CBMM has also supported the project. Find out more here:

Kensington and Chelsea to Move Families in Temporary Accommodation

The most expensive place to live in the UK, the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea, is set to move some of its most vulnerable residents out of London due to the spiralling property market.

The Conservative constituency, where the average home costs £1.4m, will spend £10m on properties outside the borough for those that have become homeless. It is looking for 39 homes in outer London, around the M25 and in the Home Counties.

The properties will become temporary accommodation for people who often suffer physical or mental health problems and who do not have somewhere to live.

The plan has been criticised by housing activists, who believe the use of temporary accommodation to house vulnerable tenants will isolate them from vital community support.

The council leader, Nick Paget-Brown, says: “In an ideal world, we would like to buy properties in Kensington and Chelsea, but the numbers simply don’t stack up. We could only buy a handful of homes here. By looking further afield, we can purchase significantly more, making a huge difference to those on our waiting list.”1

Nearby Westminster City Council has spent £3.6m purchasing 25 homes in Thurrock, Essex, for temporary housing. The amount of Westminster-owned properties located outside London is now around 100.

Kensington and Chelsea to Move Families in Temporary Accommodation

Kensington and Chelsea to Move Families in Temporary Accommodation

The most recent group bought by the council are in Grays, 25 miles east of central London. They cost an average of £183,000 each, compared to the average house price of around £1m in Westminster.

This strategy arrives after plans were announced to demolish flats in Chelsea, which the council currently uses for temporary accommodation. It is thought that they will be replaced by private apartments costing up to £4m each. Comedian Eddie Izzard and the deputy Labour leadership candidate, Tom Watson, have opposed the scheme.

A council spokesperson states: “We do not rule out having to go further afield and will consider the M25 area and southern counties.”1

A single mother of two, Doaa Borie, 38, has one child who has special educational needs. She says: “It is unfair and it makes me angry.”

Her family is facing eviction from temporary housing on the Sutton Estate, a social housing area in Chelsea, which will be partly replaced by multi-million pound luxury apartments.

“It seems like only rich people can lead normal lives,” she continues. “Sending people out of London is a very bad idea. This will damage children by pushing us away from the community.”1

The Labour leader of Thurrock Council, John Kent, claims he was not told about Westminster’s plans and demands that the authority pays the social care costs of residents it moves out of the area.

In a letter sent in March to Westminster’s Conservative council leader, Philippa Roe, Kent writes: “Your current approach simply props up your failing housing system.

“It increases the burden on the public purse through ever-growing housing benefit payments by pushing up rents and demand for housing outside London.”1 

The former leader of the Labour group at Westminster, Paul Dimoldenberg, also opposes the proposal: “Westminster Conservatives are continuing to export the homeless to East London and Essex where they have no social connections or family support.

“They are using their financial wealth to take away homes from residents in Grays who want to buy or rent locally.”1

The Westminster Cabinet Member for Housing and Regeneration, Daniel Astaire, defends the scheme as “a practical step to help people in housing need” and says housing is a London-wide problem that will not be solved by sticking strictly to borough boundaries.1

The average house price in Kensington and Chelsea is the most expensive of anywhere in the country, according to Land Registry.

The council is hoping to save huge amounts of money by looking outside the borough. It is planning to spend no more than £450,000 per home.

The system could leave workers in temporary accommodation with long commutes if they want to keep their jobs. However, the council says that any two and three-bedroom homes would be within commuting distance of the borough and in areas where the ethnicity of the population is similar to the different types of households who live in temporary housing.

Policy Director at homelessness charity Shelter, Roger Harding, voices his concerns: “This is yet another symptom of the capital’s drastic shortage of genuinely affordable homes, which is seeing homeless families uprooted and torn away from their local area on an unprecedented scale.

“Imagine the pain of losing your home and just wanting a little help until you get back on your feet. And instead, finding yourself being forced to pack your bags for a new town and waving goodbye to schools, jobs and everyone you know.

“If we don’t want to see parts of London becoming no-go zones for all but the very rich, then the only solution is for the Mayor and the Government to invest in building the genuinely affordable homes that we so desperately need.”1



Bolt-On Pods to Solve Homelessness

An architect has designed pods that bolt on to existing buildings in an attempt to combat the growing problem of homelessness in Britain.

James Furzer, an award-winning architectural technician, has created plans for the steel-framed pods that are reached by ladder. He believes they could be used nationwide as short-term shelters for those sleeping rough.

The 26-year-old has been praised by housing charities, which are shocked by the country’s lack of affordable housing.

The static pods are designed to provide four to eight hours’ shelter for those in need. Furzer says: “I know it’s not going to solve homelessness but it is somewhere to give them a night’s rest, to give them a bit of an escape for a few hours.”

The pods would be made from plywood and steel frames and could be bolted on to any building. They feature windows for natural light and a foldable shelf with a mattress inside.

Furzer, from Dagenham, East London, adds: “It’s not a five-star hotel, but it’s got a comforting feel.

“It’s literally somewhere warm, dry and secure where someone could just get a few hours’ rest, particularly in bad weather conditions.”1 

The designs won the top prize of £5,000 in the Space For New Visions contest, organised by manufacturers Farko.

Homelessness charity Shelter has estimated that there are at least 6,500 people sleeping rough in London alone.

1 Radnedge, A. (2015) ‘The cost bolt-on crash pods designed to keep the homeless off the streets… Literally’, Metro, 24 July, p.6-7

London Housing Associations Selling Expensive Property to Fund Affordable Homes

For every pricey home a housing association sells, three affordable homes are funded.

Traditionally, housing associations were focused on housing the poor and needy. Now, they are selling off £1m-plus properties designed by top architects to rich Londoners.

This commercial attitude is turning housing associations into business-oriented firms.

Critics say that selling expensive homes at market value is fuelling spiralling prices, which make it difficult for people to get onto the property ladder. The housing associations argue that private sales generate higher profits that fund affordable housing. For every one pricey property sold, an association can build up to three cheaper ones.

Group Chief Executive of Thames Valley Housing – which has set up a private rental company named Fizzy Living – Geeta Nanda, says: “We are independent bodies and, unlike local authorities, can borrow against our assets to raise finance for development.”

Executive Director for Development & Sales at housing charity Peabody – which owns and manages over 27,000 homes around the capital – Jeremy Stibbe, comments: “We have strong ethics and values, and we are proud to make profits as the money goes back into delivering more homes.”

He sums up the new entrepreneurial attitude as “investing private sector profit into social purpose.”1

Stibbe believes that George Peabody – who founded the Peabody Trust in the UK – would support the strategy. Peabody demanded a 3% return on his initial donation of £500,000, equivalent to over £20m today.

Notting Hill Housing and L&Q have multibillion-pound developments including high-profile central and inner London projects: the 900-home Albert Wharf in Docklands and The City Mills in Hackney.

Most housing associations build private homes in their own name, but some set up separate companies.

Fabrica, the sister company of A2Dominion, is launching penthouses priced from £1.1m in The Chroma Buildings in Southwark. Apartments at City Wharf, a group of warehouse-like blocks with communal roof terraces and courtyard gardens overlooking Wenlock Basin in Shoreditch, cost between £500,000 to £1,095,000.

The 327 flats at City Wharf are aimed at attracting young professionals, with wine fridges as standard in the kitchen and storage for 300 bikes.

Notting Hill Housing is selling £1.8m townhouses in Canonbury, Islington. Peabody is offering homes in the Chancery Building, a new riverside complex that wraps around the US embassy at Nine Elms. One-bedroom flats start at £595,000.

At St John’s Way, near Clapham Junction, 249 of 528 Peabody properties are for private sale, with prices ranging from £530,000 to £1,236,000.

Architecture is intrinsic to many of these developments, bearing in mind the original Victorian estates around the capital.

Similarly to those estates, the new blocks are simple and feature occasional architectural flair, influencing the generally harsh urban setting.

Mint Street, the first completed new scheme in Bethnal Green, has defied its surroundings – a curving railway viaduct and Travelodge – with Pitman Tozer Architects creating a refreshing project.

The larger than average flats have double-glazed winter gardens, creating a layer of sound insulation. It is being used as a template for other Peabody developments, including over 100 affordable homes at Merchants Walk in Tower Hamlets, 580 properties at Fish Island, Stratford, and 112 homes at More West in Kensington & Chelsea. Prices start at £626,500.

Chief Executive of Notting Hill Houses – which is collaborating with Sellar Property Group (who built the Shard) on a 1,030-home scheme at Canada Water – Kate Davies, states: “Developing our own homes for sale on the open market allows us to have control over design and quality.”1

L&Q’s Quebec Quarter is another large development coming to London. It will easily attract buyers as it is situated on the Jubilee line between Canary Wharf and the West End.

The Government is planning to introduce new legislation that will require housing associations sell homes to their tenants. Local authorities will fund this through selling their most expensive assets.

Nanda says: “You have to wonder why we have created a system that makes delivering new affordable homes so complicated.”1

Furthermore, a former crime hit council estate in Stockwell has been transformed; old blocks are being demolished and housing association Network Living has built new flats in a white tower that has a roof garden, named Park Heights. Prices are from £435,000.



Nine Elms in London is One of the Largest Regeneration Projects in Europe

Published On: May 15, 2015 at 12:41 pm


Categories: Landlord News

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Nine Elms and Vauxhall in central London are being transformed into a new cultural quarter. Plans for one of the largest regeneration projects in Europe were revealed this week.

Developers are hoping to tackle beliefs that the riverside area lacks personality and community. 18,000 homes are to be built here within the next ten years.

Some worry that the area will become an investor’s paradise and house transient tenants. However, city planners have developed the project to be a new neighbourhood and urban designers are making plans for how the district could grow.

Cultural placemaking

This process is called cultural placemaking and includes the arts as an intrinsic part of the area. It is hoped that residents will be involved and feel part of the community.

Top quality architects are designing the area with luxury buildings, linking it to the recently developed Battersea Power Station. Public spaces will feature arts and community, with theatre, events, markets and exhibitions.

The Battersea developer has appointed a director of design and placemaking, David Twohig, to create a plan for cultural events. He says: “The spaces in between the buildings are as important as the buildings themselves.”1 

Circus West is the first residential section of the power station and includes a modern village hall. The original boiler house and control room will be cultural spots.

The Royal College of Art’s Battersea campus is a recent addition and will have an artistic influence on Lambeth and Wandsworth. The college is partnered with developer St James at StudioRCA, located at the Riverlight apartment complex at Nine Elms. Homes here start at £800,000.

Damien Hirst is also opening a space in this area, the Newport Street Gallery, which will include the artist’s personal collection of 2,000 pieces, including work by Banksy.

The gallery will open this summer and is a renovation of listed warehouses where Hirst works. It will occupy a whole street, which was once a rundown area. Now, these parts are changing quickly and attracting hipsters to cheaper loft apartments.

Nine Elms in London is One of the Largest Regeneration Projects in Europe

Nine Elms in London is One of the Largest Regeneration Projects in Europe

However, a nearby fine art storage warehouse owned by auction house Christie’s is being refurbished into The Residence, which will include 510 homes. 76 of these are available on a shared-ownership basis and are considered affordable.

Charles Asprey’s Cabinet Gallery is also due to open this year.

The new Barbican

Some believe Nine Elms will become the new Barbican, however, it would be more navigable with a linear park linking the individual elements; 29 sites over 482 acres. A comprehensive culture trail will mark out the district. A route will also connect Lambeth to Vauxhall Cross.

Vauxhall Pleasure Gardens is a restoration project of a Victorian venue, and will host outdoor cinema screenings in summer and open a temporary ice rink in wintertime. A new pedestrian bridge will connect residents to areas across the River Thames.

Within Lambeth, Fentiman Road has four-storey Victorian properties popular with professionals from the City. Lilian Baylis Old School is a listed 1960s teaching block, which has been turned into good-sized apartments.

Lambeth Walk’s Victorian streets were spoiled in the 1970s by redevelopment. Now, areas are being revived and small businesses are moving into shop fronts. Accommodation above the shops will soon be available.

Manmade creativity

It is wondered, however, if such a creative atmosphere can be manmade. The developers are building relationships with the arts, but can more than profit be created?

Lifelong local resident Bridget Wright, 58, says: “I suppose patrons are okay, but we don’t want to be patronised. A lot of snooty typed from across the river in Chelsea are turning up and we are already seeing prices moving beyond what many locals can afford.”1

Developers are required to make financial contributions and improvements to the local area when given planning permission. Within Nine Elms, two new schools will be built alongside health care centres. The Northern line extension was also part of the selling factor of this area.

Futurecity is a placemaking agency focusing on culture. Mark Davy, founder of the firm, is in the middle of the debate. The company has 30 developer clients and 100 projects in progress in London and the South East.

He says: “In the past, creative neighbourhoods were in so-called downtown areas with cheap industrial space and bad transport links, but the success of new developments built around the arts, such as King’s Cross, has persuaded the private sector to invest in culture.

“Often, it’s about making creative use of an existing budget. London is moving from a capital city traditionally defined by the financial sector, to one defined by the creative and knowledge sectors.”1

Davy believes culture brings all the elements that make a modern city.