Wednesday 14 August 2013

Properties For Overseas Investors Are The Wrong Housing Priority

H&F Conservatives' dubious manipulation of planning powers
means that over 80% of this Fulham Reach scheme is being
sold to overseas investors instead of UK residents
This Telegraph article highlight's how UK home ownership has fallen for the first time in over 100 years. Meanwhile, according to this report in the Independent, the average age of a UK first time home buyer is likely to be forty by the end of this decade, while the average twentysomething is likely to be well over fifty before they buy their first home. There is a housing crisis in the UK. It is worse in London and much worse in Hammersmith and Fulham - which has the fourth highest land prices in Great Britain.

So what is to be done? At a local level, land development policies are one of the key powers councils and the London Mayor holds. They both have a range of powers to insist that land can only be developed for housing if it fits local housing needs. That should mean that there are lots of low cost homes for first time and other resident buyers and lots of decent low cost homes for Londoners to rent. But that isn't what is happening in Hammersmith and Fulham.

H&F's Conservative Administration have cosied up to a series of property speculators and use a dubious planning ruse to allow them to build housing units that are almost exclusively for overseas investors. This Russian website is marketing the investment apartments on the controversial Fulham Reach development - in which over 80% of the properties built will be to sold to investors living in Russia, the Gulf and the Far East.

The consequences of this is hardest felt by people in their twenties. A generation ago many could reasonably expect to get onto the property ladder before they were thirty but now they face living in expensive and often unsatisfactory private rented accommodation for at least two decades before they achieve their aspiration of owning their own place to live.

This needs to change. Planning powers need to be re-enforced so they prioritise building new local, genuinely affordable homes to buy and to rent. This housing crisis can be halted. But that means government needs to act nationally, regionally and locally. I will certainly make sure that this issue will be a key local priority if the public vote for H&F Labour to run Hammersmith and Fulham Council next May.

UPDATE: 12.57pm, 15th Auguest 2013. The link to the Russian website has been mysteriously taken down. It had worked for a long while prior to appearing here. Now someone has apparently removed it. So, a competition! Whoever who finds the most new links to newly developed Hammersmith and Fulham homes being marketed at oversea investors and post them in the comments section wins.


Anonymous said...

The Russian website is back. Using Google translation, here's one excerpt that's been translated from Russian to English.

"Fulham - London area, which is located along the north bank of the Thames between Chelsea neighborhood (west) and Hammersmith (to the east). Fulham affects its tidiness and cleanliness and, of course, for its many parks and gardens. Known Bishop's Park, the gardens of the palace and park Fulhemskogo Parsons Green on the weekend are a great spot for young couples in London the capital. Fulham - a wonderful area for an active evening with a variety of bars, pubs and restaurants".

"Hammersmith to the east"?

Unknown said...

Good news: the link is working again. For anyone wondering what this means - "Апартаменты в новом жилом комплексе, с великолепным видом на Темзу, в районе Фулхэм (Лондон). Великобритания" - Google Translate says, "Apartments in new residential complex, with magnificent views of the River Thames, near Fulham (London). United Kingdom"

Unknown said...

More... An FT piece on 3 Aug says that overseas buyers are also pushing up the price of mid-priced property, with nearly three-quarter of new homes in central London – including studios and one-bed flats – being bought by foreign purchasers. This means that local people on a reasonable income are going to find it ever harder to buy in Hammersmith & Fulham.

The FT says, “The swing away from the UK buyers, who traditionally dominate the high-volume housing market, casts doubt on government claims to be making the capital more affordable for the domestic labour force.” See (paywall)