Why not build expensive stuff on expensive land, collect all the vast piles of moolah and build low value housing on low value land? You’ll be able to build more low value housing that way….

30 thoughts on “Ummm”

  1. Oh Tim! you aren’t half a spoilsport. Virtue-signalling isn’t easy, don’t be nasty and point out their stupidity…

  2. Surely all homes are “affordable” to someone, otherwise it would be a waste of time and effort building them. Whether they are affordable to the majority of people, well that’s another question.

  3. Because the carefully selected people who will get these houses would rather live in them, there, than live in cheaper dives elsewhere.

  4. . . . affordable homes on the most valuable land in London . . .

    Either the homes won’t remain affordable or the land won’t remain the most valuable.

  5. I agree, but how and when did affordable come to mean cheap? It doesn’t matter what it is, if it’s expensive and somebody buys it, it’s affordable, maybe not by a poor person but by somebody.

  6. 100% affordable homes on the most valuable land in London; only an almshouse charity can do this.

    An almshouse charity doesn’t sell homes but rather lets them out at a peppercorn rent to the poor and needy. That’s all well and good but isn’t in any sense representative of the housing market as a whole since it relies on endowments and philanthropy.

  7. I dunno. It does appear to be a legitimate charity with very little government support. If it wants to spend this money in this way, is that any business of mine? I’m slightly ambivalent. But I think I come down on the side of this is a good thing: we don’t want wealthy left-wing Londoners living in effective gated communities, we want them rubbing up against the consequences of their beliefs and policies. I take the point that some of these properties will go to wealthy left-wing Londoners, but some won’t one would assume. Maybe they will even get a few rapey stabby types moving in, and their daughters and wives and sisters can spend exciting evenings looking over their shoulders.

  8. To be fair, it’s not inherently irrational to believe that there are some kinds of equity/social/cultural benefits to this kind of development mixing up the urban map a bit. Ensuring rich and poor live cheek by jowl does limit the extent to which the political class can ignore issues like poverty, pollution or sanitation, and prevent ethnically homogeneous ghettoisation (and in areas that are getting richer, some of the culturally blandening elements of gentrification). Letting lower income people save money on the cost of travel to work is also proportionately a bigger win for them than it is for the well-off. Now you may not find this viewpoint very persuasive – I think it is more compelling to those with an idealistic outlook in the first place, which it’s no surprise to see among charity workers – but I don’t think it’s unreasonable.

    However, Timmy’s point still holds. Sweat those assets, make the most money you can from selling top dollar property to those who can afford it, and you’ll find yourself with more money to play with for whatever do-goodery you have in mind, so you can probably get a bigger net welfare gain this way. There is an equity-welfare trade-off here, as economists would see it, and the ability to spin a shiny story to yourself and your supporters about how much good you’ve achieved, doesn’t make that trade-off go away. Best to be explicit about the trade-off because that way you can at least have more informed discussions and decisions about it.

    (Fwiw the ability of better-connected people to take advantage of schemes like this does somewhat undermine its equity advantage. But with only a finite amount of largesse to be doled out, the issue of its allocation is always going to be a problem. If the charity went Full Timmy and created a shedload of new properties in a lower value area that met its “affordability” criteria, those would still be attractive properties and there would still be people trying to pull strings to get into them.)

  9. What is the big virtue signal about ‘only an almshouse charity can do this’ then? Anyone could build low cost housing on expensive land if they wanted to. They seem to be insinuating that they faced some sort of opposition from the planning process to their proposals that only they as wonderful people could possibly have overcome.

  10. philip
    Thomas Guy is now persona non grata because the owner of the coffee shop where he used to drink once served someone who owned slaves.
    It will now be called Sundiata Keita Hospital, after the Mandinka King.

  11. “Because the carefully selected people who will get these houses would rather live in them, there, than live in cheaper dives elsewhere.”
    See the Barbican development

  12. Bloke in North Dorset

    Quite a reasonable response from them on Twitter to Tim’s suggestion: “ That’s one way of looking at it, but we were founded to serve older people in Southwark, and there’s no cheaper land available. Other charities have sold valuable land and moved out to the country, but we don’t want to!”

    And who say’s they’re selling? Cheap rents are a better way to serve old people and continue to meet their charitable aims.

  13. BiND,
    They could serve people in Southwark by leasing the land to the highest bidder then using the proceeds to pay for elder care or whatever. Nothing in their charter says they need to provide housing.

  14. ” but we were founded to serve older people in Southwark”

    Yeah, right. That’s what always gets said. But it depends on which older people, doesn’t it? Union leaders reaching the ends of their careers is older people. Particularly if they have parked their union funded Mercedes in Souithwark. Again see Barbican. Most of these things are about getting their mates housed in nice areas without them having to pay market prices. There was a lot of this around Shelter’s early days in the late 60s. Amazing how all these ex-public school hippies managed get nice pads in Kensington & Chelsea. Must have been people in real fucking need, mustn’t they. Daddy’s allowance check late in the post?

  15. “affordable homes” annoys me. Just build *more* homes. Then the rich people upgrade and the homes they leave become more affordable. This idea that profit is bad has got to be one of the more harmful ones.

  16. There are plenty of shitty parts of Southwark where the could buy up run-down housing, demolish it and build something better for the elderly. They could lease their Blackfriars site for 120 years then benefit each time the re-lease (ala what the Duke of Westminster did). Oxo Tower on the river is social housing, below the swanky restaurants and above the trendy shops. They have to be worth a least a million quid each for a 1 bed. Though to cut the when Oxo some slack, when it was refurbished/converted the Southbank was still a bit of a dump.

    They are really scared that the north of of the borough becomes too posh.

  17. As an ex-employee my paternal grandfather was fortunate in gaining tenancy of an alms house built on hospital land in centre of town. Peppercorn rent. Not sure what the pecking order for the limited number of properties was, but a god’s gift to my grandparents at that stage of their life.

  18. These properties will be sub-let on the sly. The leasees will live in even more affordable housing elsewhere (such as Nairobi)

  19. @isneezeinthrees

    Jade jagger lives (lived? They have since split) in the oxo tower. Her husband, DJ Adrian Fillary, managed to land a pad there. I don’t know what his background is but it always looked a bit sus given able single men haven’t really had access to council housing in London for decades.


  20. @Oblong
    I can tell you how it’s done. Connections. Need housing association flat in one of the better areas of London? Know someone in an ethnic minority housing trust (charity) gets allocations from one of the bigger housing associations? Or know someone who knows someone who knows them? Over coffee & sticky pastries in a cafe a bulky envelope of readies is passed over to someone speaks English as a second language. They may ask you to invent a housing “need”. Or if you lack creativity, they’ll do it for you.
    There’s people on fairly modest salaries controlling hundreds of millions of pounds worth of sought after residential property. WTF do you expect to happen?

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