It stands to the north of Croydon town centre like a monument to the flaws of the housing market, a broken tooth of a tower block in the middle of a busy south London roundabout.
Construction work began a decade ago on a tower which was supposed to include 183 flats and 11 penthouses, some with price tags of more than £1million.
But after the global financial crash and building companies going bankrupt, a name change seeing the blighted IYLO becoming “The Island” followed, and the 20-storey building still has outside areas which look like a building site.
The estate agents trying to market the over-priced flats have resorted to using architects’ sketches of what the reception area, with 24/7 concierge service, no less, might look like once it is all finished. After 10 years, you’d think they might be able to use their own photographs of the open reception area.
Apartments in the block were once marketed “exclusively” to buy-to-let property speculators in the Far East, who were assured that none of the homes in the building would be occupied by anyone on benefits.
As photographer Grant Melton’s images demonstrate, the building has looked unloved.
Even a much-reduced asking price of £550,000 for a two-bedroom flat on the 18th floor today doesn’t seem to be much of a bargain.
Developers’ dreams of making easy money from a patch of land which seemingly no one else would want have turned into a long-lasting nightmare.
“As a place to live, Island is hard to beat. Every apartment and penthouse has either a terrace or a balcony and floor to ceiling windows offering superb views over the area,” the sales blurb on the marketing website states.
“At ground level, the landscaped gardens provide an oasis of calm in a metropolitan setting.” An oasis of calm. In a roundabout.
When photographer Melton visited the site, he says it was in a sorry state, long neglected, with the underground car park flooded.
Surely no one who actually visits the property would consider paying the prices being asked for?
Maybe the marketing department’s best hope is to revert to Plan A and flog a few to absentee landlords in the Far East who won’t be bothered about actually seeing the place, never mind living in it.
What is certain is that The Island should be held up as an example, to politicians from the housing minister, to the council CEO and beyond, how the free market is such a poor answer to the resolving the housing crisis.
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