There Might Finally Be An Affordable Way To Live In Central London

Photo: Matilda Hill-Jenkins
Would you be willing to downsize if it meant being able to move to a better location? London's housing crisis means that living in the city centre is a chimera for all but the wealthiest and those living in what little social housing is left. And with the recent slowdown in London house price growth subsiding, the situation looks unlikely to improve drastically in the near future.
However, one housing regeneration developer thinks it has a solution for those of us who'd kill to live in Zone 1. U+I is planning to build thousands of so-called "micro-flats" to tackle the "hollowing out of central London" and make it more affordable for young people, key workers and those on middle incomes, the Telegraph reported.
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The small homes in the Town Flats scheme, which launches tomorrow, will have between 19 and 24 square metres of floor space – far fewer than the 37 metres square minimum recommended by the Greater London Authority, but judging from the pictures available online they do actually look liveable.
The flats will be built in blocks in shared communal areas in nine of the capital's most central boroughs, with rents costing between £700-£1,200 per month and at least half will meet the London Living Rent criteria. Only those whose salaries fall below a threshold will be eligible and rental increases will be capped. They can't be bought and sold on, either, as they'll be available to rent only.
U+I has reportedly created two test apartments, designed by Manser Practice and architect Ab Rogers, in its offices in London's Victoria. Building five blocks of micro-flats in each of the nine London boroughs could result in 4,770 extra homes, according to a report due to be published tomorrow by the think tank Development Economics.
Richard Upton, deputy chief executive of U+I, said the capital "has been hollowing itself out" for too long and for too many people. “For a new generation of workers in the middle, often working centrally, living in the middle of London has long been a dream.”
The company wanted to not only "re-fill hollowed out London", he said, but also "bring communities back to life and deliver real social and economic benefits". He added: “Ideally we would like to develop these sites in association with public sector bodies who have unused land. This could bring additional social benefit to the public sector by generating much needed revenue from the rental income, while retaining ownership of their assets.”
Stephen Lucas, author of the Development Economics report, said that "with greater numbers of people than ever choosing location over space when deciding where to live," ensuring there is enough high-quality, centrally-located housing will be key to shore up the capital's future economic, social and cultural growth.
Would you be tempted to scale down to be able to walk to work and avoid public transport altogether? We could be tempted...
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