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Has the SE1 bubble burst? for now

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Sunday 12 January 2003 1.11pm
one of the limiting factors (in terms of redevelopment) of the east side of SE1 is the sheer quantity of 60s council housing. The west side of SE1 (Waterloo etc.) had much less council-owned property, and as a consequence, has been more quickly redeveloped. There are also more bars and variety at the west end of SE1. The simple fact is that those that live in council-owned property are by definition more likely to be more economically challenged. Hence, the plethora of cost-cutters,hair-dressers,money-exchange to nigeria. etc. and the dearth of more middle-class pursuits, such as the ubiquitous starbucks, arthouse cinemas, etc. For those of you involved in amateur property speculation, unfortunately this situation is not going to change. The simple fact is that there is no chance of the im Balance between council(or HA)/private ownership changing on the east side of SE1 in the near future. Partly, this is because the council is still wedded to the idea that it still has a viable role to play as a social landlord, and even if it did get around to shifting major chunks of its property, they would go to RSL's, not the private sector. My personal view is that this is a mistake, because if the area is to be "lifted" for everyone (rich and poor alike) you do not achieve this by having the majority of housing owned by RSL's, whose tenants have little in terms of disposable income to put back into the local economy. All successful communities need to be balanced, and the only way to re- Balance SE1 is to sell off some council stock to the private sector, and using the money raised to reinvest in better quality affordable housing. This would require an imaginative rehousing policy, and would be extremely unpopular with key sections of the community.

The other problem is that central gvt. know that Southwark can not be trusted with SRB, and is also incapable of delivering ELMOs. Hence, ODPM's attitude is "why throw good money after bad"? Southwark had its chance with the elephant SRB, blew it, and you can guarantee that central gvt. won't trust it with any more redevelopment in the future, as long as there are more deserving and successful councils (eg: Camden) elsewhere. The only saving grace is that the tram link from Camden through Covent Garden to Waterloo, then on to Elephant, Bermondsey and North Peckham, will go ahead, and will do more than most other projects to revitalise the area. The trouble is, it will take 10 years from now and by that point, Thames Gateway will be the place to be!
Sunday 12 January 2003 7.39pm
MM what you say sounds very interesting, even more interesting if I knew what ELMO, ODPM, SRB and RSLs were I read through it and thought WTF?

Laura - the one reason I moved to Shoreditch is that I couldn't afford anywhere anywhere near as nice in SE1 rental prices have dropped a lot in that area in the last six months as lots people bought with the intention of letting flats out during the dotcom boom and have had empty spaces for up to a year.
Tuesday 14 January 2003 1.16pm
sorry biscuit boy- translation as follows:

ODPM is office of the deputy prime-minister, ie: Prescott. Not only does his office control a lot of the money that goes to our local councils, but they also have a lot of influence over what they do with that money, in terms of regeneration. You don't bite the hand that feeds you, but Southwark have managed to get a reputation with ODPM for stuffing things up.

SRBs are Single Regneration Budgets. Basically, these are large sums of money given out by central government to regenerate particularly screwed-up bits of town (eg; Elephant and Castle). The council got the money for Elephant years ago, but then managed to blow the plans for what to spend it on, and as a consequence, the Government aren't too chuffed with them.

RSLs are registered social landlords. Basically, things like Housing Associations, etc. They are supposed to provide housing for less well off members of our community, or people who are in some way disadvantaged.

The ELMO was a typing error. I meant ALMO which stands for Arms-length Management Organisation. Basically, the deal is this. The Council agrees to delegate the management of its council housing stock to a new body, called an ALMO. In return, central Government give them a whole load of cash to do the properties up. But you only get the extra millions, if you set the ALMO up. Its just a case of jumping through hoops for central government, in return for a whole load of extra cash. Trouble is, once again, Southwark have failed to jump through the hoop, so have also failed to get the extra cash from Government.

Hope that clarifies matters.
Tuesday 14 January 2003 10.33pm
Interesting discussion - who hasnt thougt about these questions as they stroll around this fascinating part of London? I have lived here for almost a year, but have always lived in places that have a vibrant community with everything you could ask for at your doorstep yet still close to a City centre. I am keenly interested in the future of SE1 - I keep getting a 'Brunswick Street' vision for this area. Picture Borough High Street, wide footpaths, one way traffic, funky and lounge cafes and bars, live music aplenty, good affordable food, fine people and cool modern art. Is this a dream... or could it be reality?

Or should I go back to Brunswick Street? I'll give it 12 months.
Wednesday 15 January 2003 2.51pm
reply to paul travers (of Stirling Akroyd)
a bit cheeky to cite bonnington square as an example of residents of expensivel privatels owned houses running their own restaurant. as far as i am aware this is a square full of housing association flats - hence the few shreds of community spirit that flourish here. The only major private housing in the square will be the old school which is being turned into luxury flats and, if they get their way, security gating.

i wish the area would stop being so 'up and coming' and start arriving - i wonder what the huge long lane developments will do

i also feel that now the cabbage has closed there is really nothing truly good enough to get people to visit (ok borough market)and have had to start travelling out to the up and come areas
Wednesday 15 January 2003 3.02pm
Hmm - having sold a fair few expensive houses and flats in Bonnington Square during my 10 year period in Stockwell & Brixton, I might beg to differ.

Admittedly I did finish working there 3 years ago so I guess the possibility of the private residents selling up to housing associations since then does exist although the owners of a place we sold here last year (for over half a million) bought a house in Bonnigton Square.

But yes, I did omit the fact there are some housing association places there. The point I was making is that owner occupiers do not HAVE to be without a "shred of community spirit".

Sorry for not being a cynic. I'll work on it.
Wednesday 15 January 2003 4.00pm
Hmmmm would love to think that Borough High Street 'could' be like that but the volume of traffic and short sightedness of Southwark Council makes it unlikely (why did they allow a nine to discrete chicken take away to open in the street???)

I guess I'm more than enough of a cynic to cover for Paul.

Does anyone know who owns the chain that operates Simon Tanner/Leatehr Exchange and the other one near Snowfields? They are doing a great job whoever they are.

Also - what is the latest on the Antique Market Square?


Wednesday 15 January 2003 4.19pm
(to paul travers)
wow you are really pulling rank on me re the bonnington square experience. i dont want to get petty - but according to my impeccable sources (my ex chris who lives there) the square is more than 80% social housing. the cafe was originally a squatted building that was sold by lambeth and with the help of lottery funding turned into the cafe. anyone can cook for it but it tends not to be the 'haves' - they tend to eat there looking for a ghettotastic experience.

obviously this is sounding a bit 'kibbutz' and i am really not interested in getting into some class war debate but i did feel you gave the impression of this expensive square full of community spirit. when i lived in a garden sqare in kensington (well ok it was earls court but that is still the royal boro') there was certainly no community cafe.

never mind - what i really want to know from you is - should i sell my ex council 2bed, take the profit, rent for three years while the market plunges and then buy again??
Wednesday 15 January 2003 7.15pm
Jim (and every other property owner in my area)

If the market is going to plunge for 3 years then yes you'd be very well advised to take your profit and run.

Has a date been set for the plunge yet? People keep asking me when it's going to start.

Now the difficult bit: you'll need to put a structure in place to keep the plunge completely secret from every person considering a purchase - otherwise you'll have difficulty finding a buyer. You'll also need an "alternative" reason for selling in case your buyer should ask why you are moving. Saying "well the market's gonna take dive" I imagine could well work against you in securing their commitment (not to mention cash).

I bow to the superior knowledge of your ex. As an estate agent, I am rarely invited into a house not owned by the occupant - fortunately I've never had a hoax call. So my view of demographics in garden squares is, I now realise, somewhat blinkered.

A lesson learnt.

That is all.
Thursday 16 January 2003 10.03am
Ho ho ho.

very funny indeed. Especially as I was always under the impression that Estate Agents lacked humour.

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