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Berkeley Homes @ Potters Fields & ex-St Olave's Grammar School

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Wednesday 24 October 2007 10.19am
From the Mayor's comments it seems that part of the problem is a fetish about 'affordable housing'. It's mere communism to impose cheap housing on such a valuable site and so downgrade and/or delay its value to society as a whole. Even were politically imposed 'affordable housing' a good thing (apart from its utility as a gerrymander) it would make more sense to put it in other parts of Southwark. Clearly those who prefer a cultural centre or 'The Hill' don't care about 'affordable housing' on this site. Nor do I.
Wednesday 24 October 2007 10.59am
This X% affordable housing for every new building that goes up has been somehow written in stone in the interests of preventing the creation of elitist housing areas or districts where only the posh and rich live. That it is, like much of socialism, not actually terribly workable, is beside the point. The Mayor and the Government are paying lip service to the idea that everyone wants to live cheek by jowl with everyone else, and if they dont want, then they should. They also assume that all this affordable housing, which is in the least attractive part of the development (the lower, darker, noisier...whatever part) is going to be eagerly snapped up by the key workers. This has proved to be not the case at all, and in any event, there is, to date, an overprovision of affordable housing. The end result is that these properties are given to housing associations, which put in all kinds of difficult social cases, transient tenants etc., and finally this pulls the whole development DOWN.
Wednesday 24 October 2007 2.03pm
According to an article in the Guardian recently, the problem with 'affordable' housing, is that it's not actually affordable to any of the people who are meant to be buying it. They would still need mortgages of well over 4x their salary to be able to afford to buy even a proportion of the property.

I think it's a good idea in principle, and there's no reason why key workers shouldn't be able to live in nice areas, but it seems a bit pointless when it's priced out of reach.
Wednesday 24 October 2007 2.30pm
I too saw the article in the Guardian. I think the phrase 'affordable housing' is a misleading generalization and the concept frequently misuderstood. Does the mayor publish figures showing the overall spilt between 'socially rented' and 'shared owenership'units newly built each year? If so, I'd like to see them. The much needed requirement for decent rented housing is now mostly being provided by Housing Associations rather than through private residential devleopers.

As Chukalata points out, shared ownership is very rarely 'affordable' and the more prestigious the scheme with higher sales values, the less so. There is serious money in shared ownership housing for the developers too - they are not building them at a loss or just because they have to.

Having just walked past the site, Berkeley Homes are busy with their diggers and a pile driver. Assuming they are not digging to Australia, what could they be up to? I think you need a fairly good idea of what you are going to build before you start piling...
Wednesday 24 October 2007 2.53pm
I think [affordable housing is] a good idea in principle, and there's no reason why key workers shouldn't be able to live in nice areas, but it seems a bit pointless when it's priced out of reach.

You just don't (want to) understand how the free market works, do you.

You are in favour of house prices being lower than they are. Well, I'm in favour of free doughnuts for all, but that's never going to happen either.

There is a reason why key workers can't live in 'nice' areas - they're too expensive. So it's bound to be priced out of reach.

Why anybody would want to buy when they can rent for 65% of the cost of financing the money is beyond me - let alone repairing and maintaining a property; whether there will ever be any market for 12.5% of a house remains to be seen.

Roll on communism. TFIC.
Wednesday 24 October 2007 2.59pm
I agree, Chuckalata. I live in "affordable housing" (shared ownership) and the development I live in in Camberwell was one of very few I have seen in the inner London area (10 minutes on the bus from Elephant) which was genuinely affordable. And even that requires qualification - my 1-bedroom flat is easily manageable on my average London salary. If I had a child and needed an extra bedroom, or earned less than average, this would not be the case.

My block of flats was marketed by the same people as are/were marketing the "affordable" bits of the recent Lant Street, Tabard Square and Great Suffolk Street developments, and frankly these - and not just these, which are in a handy SE1 location, but many of the developments down Greenwich/Woolwich way - are well out of reach. I would struggle to afford even a studio at any of these prices. More to the point, the monthly costs would not even compare favourably to local open-market rents.

My monthly outgoings (mortgage+rent+service charge) compare very favourably with rents and purchase prices in my area to the tune of about 200 a month. For me, this is the difference between comfort/confidence in my financial situation and huge vulnerability to changes in the market.
Wednesday 24 October 2007 3.04pm
If people want to have a debate about the concept of 'affordable' housing in general, could I ask that a separate thread is started and that this one keeps reasonably on-topic to the specifics of this location?


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Wednesday 24 October 2007 3.05pm
Hi, I cross-posted with you Mapmaker. Like you, I worry about those developments where the buy/rent split is as extreme as 12.5%/87.5% (you tend to find this only in the most expensive developments as it's the only way left to keep the ongoing costs down for the "buyer"). It really minimises the buyer's options for the future.

Mine is a 40%/60% split, and I would never have gone for any less. Neither will I be tempted to "staircase" to own any more of it, until (unless?) I am in a position to buy ALL the rest. In my eyes, anything intermediate means I'd be making my flat unsaleable both to those able to buy at market price, and those looking for an affordable part-buy/part-rent option.
Wednesday 24 October 2007 3.10pm
Oops, cross-posted with you too, James.

Wednesday 24 October 2007 5.13pm
Livingstone: "It is unfortunate that Southwark Council ..... continues to prevent this development, thus depriving Londoners of 374 new homes."

What an ignorant, unprincipled oaf! Wonder how much Berkeley are paying him to act as their spokesman? It is no coincidence that Livingstone starts to pipe up just as Southwark are beginning to receive offers is it?

The point is not 374 homes - many of which, at the prices Berkeley will ask for them, will not and cannot by bought by Londoners, but the best use of a unique and sensitive site on the Thames. 20 storey towers are inappropriate and most civilized people would realize that without a second thought. Prescott, and now obviously Livingstone, are clearly intimidated by Tony Pidgeley and his henchmen who probably tell them to behave and do what they are told when he invites them to lunch and splashes out a decent bottle of burgundy.

To portray this as Southwark Council being responsible for 374 people not having a roof over their head is offensive in the extreme.
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