Millions were poured into improving security and building new sports and leisure facilities. There followed an ambitious £2.4bn scheme to replace the entire 1960s-designed complex with modern, low-rise homes, mixing private units with social housing.
£2.4 billion for a housing estate.
The £180m would have directly financed the construction of just 350 of the eventual 4,200 new homes replacing the Aylesbury\’s brutalist concrete towers and walkways.
4,200 homes? And, of course, the land is already bought and paid for, there\’s no plamnning permission costs or anything.
I\’m sorry, £570,000 per house?
WTF? Are they building them out of marble or something?
Yes, I know demolishing the old costs something but without having to pay for the land you should be able to build damn good 3 bed detatched houses for £100,000. That\’s without using any pre-fab techniques or anything, this is traditional brick built stuff.
So what in hell are they doing to spend £2.4 billion?
One factor could be that ‘social housing’ tends to be at a much higher spec than private development. You can’t get away with these ‘shoe-box’ estate houses when you’re building for the underprivileged. The room sizes, for a start wouldn’t be acceptable.
Then there’s the standards for insulation, windows, electrics, plumbing etc. Private you’re working from the minimum allowable requirements. Public sector that’s only a starting point. Someone thinks solar capture would be ‘environmentally friendly’ & the plans will specifying entire glazed elevations & all the resultant ventilation solutions needed so the occupants don’t cook in August.
Then there’s all the ‘elf’n’safety’ stuff. Friend of mine was interesting in letting into the social housing market. The amount of stuff he’d have to have done to the properties was ridiculous. An ordinary bay window, same as half the urban houses in the country? Not good enough. The bottom glass had to be replaced with laminated or another solution to prevent the occupiers hurling themselves through the panes if they got the urge. It was suggested he built a 1 meter high brick wall across the bay inside as a barrier. Seriously.
There are some clues in the numbers. Southwark council spent £1m to just pay for the paperwork. The £180m directly funding 350 houses backs up your £500K per house cost. Other clues include the fact that the scheme was a PFI one – in other words expensive.
Maybe the cost is so high in that there are section 106 agreements and other infrastructure costs included in the overall total.
A great example showing how much more things cost when the State gets involved in the management of them.
If you allow another £100K per house for the demolition/cleanup operation (I’m assuming there’s asbestos in the old buildings), the State costs more than double the private sector. Which I reckon is par for the course.
I nearly bought a flat in the Elephant once. (They don’t call it “Aylesbury”, that’s just for the council.)
The people seemed decent, but were let down by the police not getting out of their cars and chasing crims down those endless corridors, and “community organisers” objecting to any police presence at all.
Net result: billions.
You could turn it into parkland and build a suburb and a railway line for that price.