Councillors, officials and developers like to say how great a place the Vauxhall, Nine Elms & Battersea (VNEB) area will be live. Or will it instead be a depopulated desert in the evenings and weekends, rather like large parts of Dockland? The two local authorities, Lambeth and Wandsworth, look forward to collecting lots of tax (writes Martin Stanley), but do not appear to be expecting many families to live there.
It also appears that the proposed ‘affordable housing’ will be expensive, at 80% of market rents. Here are some extracts from recent comments (1) in The Economist , (2) in the Tradescant Blog, and (3) from a document on Lambeth’s website:-
- Tony Travers, head of the Greater London Group at the London School of Economics, calls Nine Elms a symptom of the “Hong Kongification” of the city. London has a fast-growing population but also a tight “green belt” which stops it from sprawling. If it cannot go out, it must go up. Nine Elms is therefore going to be three times as dense as London as a whole—jam-packed with tall apartment blocks, with a cluster of towers at its eastern end. … Most of the purchasers are likely to be foreigners. They prefer newly built blocks to the Victorian terraces that the locals go for; according to Knight Frank, an estate agent, they snapped up two-thirds of the new flats in central London in 2012. If too many of them keep their properties as second homes, visiting only a few times a year, the area may struggle to come to life. The Economist
- Almost since the day planning permission was granted for development of Saint George’s Wharf, St. George Plc has sought to chip away at the mixed-use nature of the site and move it towards purely residential. Twice, office space was transformed into flats. Then a hotel was dropped from the scheme entirely. Along the way, some space set aside for leisure or community gatherings was changed to offices …. More lately, a ground floor storefront which had been empty has been re-purposed for use as an office.Though the area would seem to benefit from tremendous residential construction and huge footfall around the tube, rail and bus stations, retailers have apparently decided it doesn’t have much potential. St. George Plc says, “Despite intensive marketing this suite has remained un-let since completion.” Though – Sainsbury’s, Waitrose, and Travelodge have all invested to create new capacity in the immediate vicinity. A cynic might say St. George Plc isn’t really interested in hosting businesses on its site.
In a piece of breath-taking audacity the developers of Sky Gardens (opposite Sainsbury’s on the corner of Wandsworth Road and Wyvil Road) have put in an application to reduce the Affordable Housing provision from 31% as originally agreed) to zero%. Tradescant blog
Our analysis … indicates that the incomes a household will require to access Affordable Rent will increase substantially compared to the incomes required to access a social rented unit. This analysis assumes that Affordable Rent units are let at 80% of average market rents … For example, our analysis indicates that a household would require an income equivalent to 54% of average pay to rent a one-bed social rented unit … the income required to access a four-bed … unit would be equivalent to 179% of average pay; an increase from 77% for a social rented unit. Lambeth Council
Lambeth Council’s ‘Vision for Vauxhall’ : http://www.lambeth.gov.uk/NR/
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