Why we need more affordable homes

Savvy property investors are believed to be scouring London’s most prestigious postcodes for pandemic bargains. But even the most opportunistic real estate hunters will be surprised to find an apartment overlooking Harrods and Hyde Park for just £150,000.

There is one catch, however: the “zero bedroom flat” measures barely 8 square metres, or 89 sq ft in old money.

That is pretty titchy. That’s about twice the size of a super king bed. -Ish, -ish, you understand. If shagging those who claim to be visiting Harrods is your sport then it would be cheap at twice the price of course.

Thangam Debbonaire, Labour’s shadow housing secretary, said: “This outrageous advert is evidence of a broken housing market and shows why we need more truly affordable homes.”

Well, yes, OK, we’ll accept it as evidence. The thing is, what’s the best plan to get more built? Continuing with the system of the Town and Country Planning Act which has been failing since 1947 would not appear to be the way to do it.

17 thoughts on “Why we need more affordable homes”

  1. You’d think builders would get tired of building UNaffordable homes, which, obviously, will not sell at the price. It doesn’t look sensible to work on that model. Why don’t they all go bust?

  2. “Thangam Debbonaire”? Jesus Christ.

    You wouldn’t believe that name if P G Wodehouse came up with it.

    One of the Worcester Debbonaires no doubt.

  3. True generally, but I’m not sure you can build much more in Knightsbridge, or most of central London.

  4. Simple answer is to knock something down, build something better. This town’s full of large, comfortable affordable apartments. But they build 10 floors high with two levels of parking below ground & street level retail. 4 bed/3 bathroom penthouse I’ve been looking at has its own swimming pool on the terrace. Priced at what you’d be paying for a two bed flat conversion in a jerry-built Edwardian slum. If the Spanish thought like the Brits they’d still be living in one room hovels with a goat in the yard.

  5. Cover all of England with housing developments and all the infrastructure that goes with them. When everywhere is equally ruined – houses as far as one can see – we will surely have made everyone as happy as can be.

  6. Last place I lived UK side was its London equivalent. Top floor duplex in a Bayswater terrace with Hyde Park at the end. Three bedrooms, two of which you couldn’t swing a cat in, accessed via a lift could be shared with a very close friend. Off-street parking the car cost £250 a week. You think I’d go back to that dump?

  7. Here’s an outrageous suggestion; instead of concreting over England, why don’t we just stop importing the third world?

  8. bis,

    Apart from the NIMBYism, it’s compounded by an upper-middle attitude towards preservation. People who want old buildings, even if they’re barely used. And London is stuffed with empty old churches and other crap that should be bulldozed.

  9. Jonathan, the problem existed before mass immigration. Funny thing about planned economies, you don’t get supply to meet demand. Funny thing about one part of an otherwise marketised economy being subject to planning, it’s as shit as it would in a socialist shithole, with everything being too bloody expensive.

  10. “Savvy property investors are believed to be scouring London’s most prestigious postcodes for pandemic bargains.”

    Don’t we have to wait before we can say they’re “savvy”? There has to be a reasonable chance that property demand in London won’t continue its pre-covid course; postcode prestige may change.

    Forget the churches and “other crap” being bulldozed, they’re knocking down the shops:
    https://www.theguardian.com/business/2021/mar/09/m-and-s-oxford-street-store-marks-spencer-covid-crisis
    Replacing retail with offices might be risky too.

    https://www.cityam.com/oxford-street-this-is-what-the-uks-shopping-destination-could-look-like-after-lockdown/

    It looks – empty.

  11. “ This outrageous advert is evidence of a broken housing market”

    Sounds like it is working very well. Who would have thought there was such demand for a walk-in cupboard?

  12. PJF,

    “Don’t we have to wait before we can say they’re “savvy”? There has to be a reasonable chance that property demand in London won’t continue its pre-covid course; postcode prestige may change.”

    The thing with London and South East prices is about time/cost to the office. You pay more for a shorter/cheaper commute. If you’re only going into the office once a fortnight, that has less value. If you only have to be in the office once a fortnight, you can live in Swindon, get a flat near the station for £100K, instead of £350K in Hammersmith. £1000/month less mortgage. Even with a couple of £150 return train tickets, you’re £700/month better off.

  13. I’m sure that there are a lot of dingy offices in the second and third floors of buildings in the City that will soon come on the market, because no one wants or needs to rent them any more.

  14. @Otto That’s what happening in more sensible places. Where I live there are currently 13 office blocks being converted to appartments in the city centre alone. All “architectural landmarks” in their time…
    *cough* glad to be rid of the eyesores..

    No doubt they could do that in the UK. Oh wait.. Zoning, Planning, and the bloody Heritage Trust…

  15. Really interesting win-win idea over at Policy Exchange. Called Strong Suburbs it calls for streets to be able to rebuild if all the neighbours agree. So low-density suburbs can build themselves up and excess profit goes back to the original owners (among others).

    It’s more complex than that of course but it is well thought out. Worth debating.
    https://policyexchange.org.uk/publication/strong-suburbs/

  16. IIRC there was a property census conducted in London a few years to locate all the unused brownfield sites that could potentially be developed or converted

    Local government owned loads

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