£756,608 for two-bed flat? Speculators roll the dice again

What will three-quarters of a mil buy you in Croydon these days?

Not a lot, if the latest piece of property speculation, on Edridge Road in South Croydon, is anything to go by.

The Edridge

Yes: £756,608 for a two-bedroom flat. In central Croydon. “Is that even legal?” asked Inside Croydon’s loyal reader, who until very recently was a member of Generation Rent.

The marketing for the as yet unbuilt “The Edridge” that appeared online with Rightmove this week reads like a property developer’s wet dream.

It appeared in the same week that Croydon Council’s director of planning announced that “building houses is easy”. But this is an ad for a development which first went before the borough’s planning committee in 2007.

The ad offers a two-bedroom apartment close to the town centre and appears with the obligatory misuse of the word “iconic” sprinkled throughout. But The Edridge will likely to do nothing to alleviate the London-wide housing crisis.

The (deliberately) flawed planning process – which for this development was conducted under Croydon’s previous Tory administration – is illustrated by the following line in the report considered by the GLA: “The council advertised the application in the local press and erected site notices. The council did not receive any representations.” They are our italics. For a “consultation”, blink and you will have missed it.

The original application was refused by the then Tory council’s planning committee. When the developers had their arm twisted and doubled their cash offer under a Section 106 “agreement”, the council gave approval. In return for being allowed to build 12 three-bed flats, 61 two-bedroom flats and 60 one-bed apartments, the developers paid £255,000 to the local council under S106. Which could prove to be a bargain if they manage to flog just 60 of the flats at half a million each.

Unusually, The Edridge was offering 40 per cent of its accommodation to be “affordable housing”.

“That might be one reason they haven’t built it,” one experienced property market-watcher told Inside Croydon.

Of course, the definition of “affordable housing” – set by Boris Johnson at 80 per cent of the local market rate – if applied to this property as advertised on Rightmove suggests that £600,000 is “affordable”. And the politicians wonder why there’s a housing crisis…

The marketing blurb on the property website and on the developers’ own site (where two-bed flats are on offer for £200,000 less than in the gob-smacking Rightmove ad) is a case study in everything which is disagreeable about estate agents.

An artist's impression of the "exclusive" residents' only terrace on the Edridge, which might just overlook... the Croydon Flyover

An artist’s impression of the “exclusive” residents’ terrace on the Edridge, which might just overlook… the Croydon Flyover

“The bright and airy open plan island feature kitchen and lounge provides ample living space,” it states. “Ample living space”: well, you’d hope for ample space for £756,000, wouldn’t you?

“The master bedroom offers adequate floor space for a double bed.”

Yes. “Adequate” for a double bed. After all, who would want to spend £756,000 on a flat that didn’t have a bedroom with enough space for a bed?

They even claim to offer “the unique design of floor to ceiling windows”, although we’re pretty certain that floor-to-ceiling windows have existed elsewhere for a few centuries. Which would sort of make their design a bit less than “unique”.

The tower block also offers its millionaire residents a gym, pool, 24-hour concierge, a cinema (no need to cross the busy roads to mix with the riff-raff in any multiplex in the new Whitgift Centre) and a Montessori. Oh, yah!

The Chinese script on the logo of Enviro Estates is the real giveaway about this money-spinning scheme, with a special section entitled “Investment opportunity” targeted firmly at the speculative overseas buy-to-let market.

“Capital Growth rates in Croydon are currently between 9 per cent and 12 per cent per annum,” the Rightmove blurb offers, with the parenthetic rider “(according to the developers)”. Well, they would say that, wouldn’t they?

They continue: “We believe that investing in Croydon will increase dramatically once sizeable infrastructure investments by Westfield are completed.”

The town centre development will deliver investors “a boost of around 17 per cent next year, in total a return of 44 per cent over the period of three years”, the ad on Rightmove claims.

“They won’t get £750,000 for that,” our property market-watcher said when we showed him the ad, and without any doubt. “Look at what happened at the Altitude development when they tried to sell their penthouses for £1 million, and failed. And that was before the crash.”

Which all seems to suggest another failure of the planning system, giving Croydon another land-banked site which developers will hoard until they can sell off-plan to overseas investors. And meanwhile, the homeless figures in our borough continue to rise.

Coming to Croydon

  • Inside Croydon: Croydon’s only independent news source, based in the heart of the borough: 407,847 page views (Jan-Jun 2014) If you have a news story about life in or around Croydon, a residents’ or business association or local event, please email us with full details at inside.croydon@btinternet.com

About insidecroydon

News, views and analysis about the people of Croydon, their lives and political times in the diverse and most-populated borough in London. Based in Croydon and edited by Steven Downes. To contact us, please email inside.croydon@btinternet.com
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