Camden council is likely to sell Wells Coates' Isokon flats in Lawn Road, North London. Its housing committee was presented with a series of options on Tuesday evening and will reach a decision in November.
Selling the 1933 Grade II*-listed building to a private developer who would complete its restoration seems the best option in both financial and conservation terms. Funding cuts forced Camden to abandon its plans to refurbish the flats to designs by John McAslan and Partners. The first phase of this work, in 1995, cost £250,000 and the total cost would have been more than £2 million, working out at £56,000 for each of the 36 units. 'That sort of money could be much better spent in terms of our housing budget,' said a spokeswoman.
Another option for Camden would be to sell the building to a housing association, but 'the reality is that they are unlikely to want to buy it,' the spokeswoman said. The listing precludes changes to the internal layout and, with many of the flats just bedsits, the building is not really suitable for social housing. 'The smaller flats are below the minimum size for single tenants,' said McAslan, 'and there are acoustic problems.'
Camden does not know how much the building would fetch on the open market, but would make restoration a condition of sale. This option, which would be likely to result in the smaller flats being used as weekday pieds-a- terre by relatively wealthy occupants, would return the building to its original use, when occupiers included Walter Gropius, Marcel Breuer and Agatha Christie.