Permitted development sees soaring numbers of second homes

Any suggestion that the drive, by property speculators, developers and their architect mates, to over-develop Croydon with thousands of flats is in any way really intended at addressing the homelessness crisis can be readily dismissed, after government figures reveal that the borough has had the biggest increase across the whole of England and Wales in the number of second homes this decade:


Just as they used to do with unusual scores when the videprinter was running the football results on Grandstand, it is a figure deserving of being spelt out just to confirm that it is not an error.

That’s: six thousand five hundred and twenty-nine per cent.

The increase in second homes in Croydon is 10 times bigger than the growth in similar properties in any other local authority in England and Wales.

The data is from the Ministry of Housing Communities and Local Government. They define a second home as “Second homes can be owned or rented and are defined as second properties mainly used by family/friends as a holiday home, let to others as a holiday let, for occupation”.

Unless there’s been a noticeable trend in people coming to Costa del Croydon for their holidays, then it seems very likely that this humungous increase in second homes in the borough since 2010 is largely down to the “fuckhutches” of office to flat conversions, allowed under Tory government permitted development rules.

Many of these under-sized homes have been passed off as “luxury executive apartments”, and bought, often by investors from the Middle and Far East, to be rented out on the private market, sometimes at extortionate rents. Others have described these “micro-flats” as “the slums of the future”.

The reality of the astonishing percentage increase in Croydon second homes is that, in 2010, there were very few in the borough – just seven were registered as second homes in the whole of Croydon. By 2018, that had soared to 464, though that is nowhere near the highest number of second homes among other London boroughs: Hackney, which saw its number of second homes increase by a “mere” 649 per cent, went from 98 in 2010 to 734 in 2018.

In London as a whole, there were 45,980 second homes registered in 2018, down from 47,671 in 2010, a reflection on how the change of London Mayor, from Bullshit Boris Johnson to Sadiq Khan in 2016, had tended to deter the development of flats aimed at sale to overseas investors.

It has been the used of permitted development – introduced by the Tories in 2013 – which has had the greatest potential for housing blight in Croydon.

Across London, almost 16,000 homes have been built since 2013 under permitted development rules, allowing the conversion of offices and other business buildings into flats. Yet fewer than 1per cent of these PD flats are “affordable”, according to analysis from Tom Copley, Labour’s housing spokesperson at the London Assembly.

At least 2,700 permitted development flats were granted planning permission in Croydon, where some of the “micro-flats” are marketed to Chinese investors, with one-bed apartments fetching as much as £280,000.

Croydon’s Labour-run council, which took control of the council in 2014, banned permitted development in the town centre, and that seems to have stemmed the increase in second homes. The number of second home purchases in the borough decreased drastically between 2016 and 2018, according to the government data.

Swinton Insurance analysed the data. In London, the top six boroughs show a trend over the decade for more development in the south and south-west of the capital:

Croydon        6529%
Hackney          649%
Kingston          149%
Camden             73%
Merton               72%
Bromley             72%

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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
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