One of the great mysteries of London life in the 21st century – exactly how much does an “affordable” home cost? – may have finally been solved.
Because, according to the managing director of the company to which Croydon Council has sold the site of Taberner House, “homes that people can afford” means flats beside the Croydon Flyover priced at a cool…
Steve Sanham from Hub was speaking at this week’s public exhibit of his company’s plans for the development. On display was the (at least) third set of architects’ abstracts produced for the site in the past four years. And still not a brick laid nor a single ton of concrete poured.
The drawings are sufficiently vague and lacking in detail as to be utterly meaningless for most of the attendees at the “consultation”. There will be 500 homes, divided between four blocks which – as with previous proposals – appear as if they would not have looked out of place in Honecker’s East Germany.
But it was Sanham’s notion of what “people can afford” which provided the real insight into the true intentions of his company which, with the support of the Labour-lite council and its gentryfying agenda, will be expecting to use the previously publicly owned site to flog more than £200million-worth of residential properties.
“It’s all about homes for real people,” Sanham is reported to have said.
“Homes priced in the £400,000 to £800,000 bracket, homes that people can afford rather than homes we see being put up all over London where you think ‘who the hell are these people who can afford to buy that?'”
And “who the hell are these people who can afford to buy” a £800,000 flat?
A rough guesstimate would suggest that they are people who can afford to pay £4,500 per month, every month, for around 25 years, in mortgage repayments.
Even at the bottom end of what Sanham considers to be “homes that people can afford”, and after the purchasers have stumped up £40,000 as their 10per cent deposit, anyone buying one of Hub’s “budget” £400,000 flats will be paying more than £24,000 per year for their mortgage. And this in a borough where a teaching assistant can expect to receive a salary of just £14,000 per year.
“Affordable housing” is one of those deliberately misleading phrases bandied around by property speculators and small-town politicians, eager to be seen to be achieving home-building targets, but always mindful that for developers, profit is the only thing that matters.
Sanham says that 30per cent of the homes to be built – so 150 of his flats – will be “affordable”, which by the convention agreed between developers and local authorities, they will be put on the market at 80 per cent of the market value or rental price. Thus, one of Sanham’s £400,000 flats might be snapped up at a “bargain” £320,000.
All this has the full support of the Progress-dominated clique of councillors which dominates Croydon Town Hall’s Labour group.
“We’re delighted to be welcoming Hub to Croydon. They come with an impressive reputation for great design, sustainability and working with local communities,” was what deputy leader Alison Butler, in charge of the borough’s housing policy, said last July when announcing that the site had been flogged off to Hub. All this after the council’s disastrous development vehicle – CCURV – had spent two years failing to pull-together a viable scheme, and the council quietly dropped the notion of getting its home-building company, Brick by Brick, to do the job.
“As well as bringing a fresh and exciting approach to residential building in the town centre, and providing much-needed quality homes that are within reach of local people, they’ll be revitalising the Queen’s Gardens,” Labour councillor Butler said, sounding like an uber-developer.
And now we know what Butler meant when she said “quality homes that are within the reach of local people”: about £2,000 per month in mortgage repayments on even one of the cheapest flats in the development.
“That development teams of this stature continue to come to Croydon, post Brexit, shows the continued confidence in London’s growth borough as a great place to invest.”
“A great place to invest”. And increasingly, an unaffordable one to live in.
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