London News & Search
Thousands of people who have been priced out of living in the capital because of sky-high rents could move to central London in new, cheaper “micro-flats”.
A housing developer based in the city is attempting to combat the chronic unaffordability of London homes with a new “compact living” scheme designed to lure young professionals back into Zone One with reasonable rents.
The mini flats, which would have a floor size of either 19 or 24 metres squared, will be built in blocks with shared communal areas in nine inner London boroughs.
The homes, called Town Flats, would be rental only – meaning they cannot be bought and sold on.
Developer U+I has already created two test apartments in their offices in Victoria, designed by architect Ab Rogers.
Research suggests building just five blocks of the mini flats in each of the nine London boroughs could provide 4,770 extra homes in the centre.
“For too long and for too many people London has been hollowing itself out, diluting the rich blend which has made it the global capital,” said U+I deputy chief executive Richard Upton.
“The centre is now only affordable to either the very wealthy, only occasionally present, or those living in what social housing remains.
“For a new generation of workers in the middle, often working centrally, living in the middle of London has long been a dream.”
Mr Upton added: “We want to develop something that not only re-fills hollow London, but also brings communities back to life and delivers real social and economic benefits.
“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.”
The project was backed by a report by Development Economics which said it was “the type of innovation in housing delivery that London will need if the enormous challenge of meeting future housing demand in the capital is to be met.”.
All flats would be able to live in at the London Living Rent, a scheme designed to help Londoners pay rent while saving to buy their own home.
Author of the Development Economics report, Stephen Lucas, said: “With greater numbers of people than ever choosing location over space when deciding where to live, building sufficient quantities of high-quality, centrally-located housing will be essential for London’s future economic, social and cultural growth.
“Our findings show that delivering professionally-managed compact living developments along the lines of those proposed by U+I would lead to an increase in the number of young, working people living in the city centre, significantly boosting the local economy of the surrounding area”.
The flats are officially being launched on Wednesday. The next stage is for U+I to find a landowner to partner with.
But last month, analysis by Which? consumer magazine found so-called “rabbit hutch” flats might not be a good investment, as the growth rate is smaller for flats below the official minimum of 37 square metres of floor space.
Earlier this year London Mayor Sadiq Khan was asked to consider prefab housing could be one possibility to close the gap between supply and demand.
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