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Sanham: 'What about the homes for the forgotten middle?

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What London needs is more homes for those people that make the place tick - the middle market - says HUB’s Steve Sanham

Homes for the wealthiest and the poorest are all the press seems to talk about when discussing our ‘housing crisis’. Yet very little is said about homes for those on middle incomes, or in other words, the majority of us.

London’s skyline is full of cranes, the capital’s estate agents are busier than they have ever been, and yet house prices are not coming down. In fact, newspaper headlines abound with stories of yet higher and higher prices paid for simple flats. But the million pound studios on Blackfriars Road, £100 million apartments in Knightsbridge are not homes, they the playthings and saving accounts of the super-rich.

At the other end of the spectrum, we have local authorities screaming for more social housing to house their poorest and most vulnerable residents. It’s understandable, and laudable, when the private housing market is accelerating away at such a pace that we spend time and resource ensuring everyone has a home. It is correct, and popular, that we look after the most vulnerable in our society, because we can.

The middle market is a scrum

What about everyone else though? The middle market is a scrum. If you earn enough that you don’t qualify for social housing, but you don’t take home massive bonuses every year which you can sink into a swanky, overpriced, pad, then you are left in this middle space. A space where you have to fight for the scraps which fall off the top table, or live in areas of London you’d be worried to tell your mum about. You can pay rent to a faceless landlord through an overstretched letting agent, or you can sink all your savings into a deposit and enslave yourself to a mortgage for the rest of your working life.

What London needs is more homes for those people that make the place tick. Not just more homes for the super wealthy, and not only more homes for the poorest and most vulnerable. More homes for the people who oil the cogs of the capital. The guys who keep it going. You and I. This means better homes in off-centre locations, and more ‘intermediate’ affordable homes being consented by local authorities as part of their affordable housing take in planning.

That’s why at HUB we’re building homes for hard working Londoners both for rent and for sale. We’re flexible about where we build, and try our best to be flexible about what we build: All private sale in our Hoola development, but with £5.5million to the council for family housing; private rented homes in our North Acton scheme, but with 20 of them being let at a discount to the open market; a mixture of apartments and townhouses in our Old Vinyl Factory scheme as part of a wider regeneration; and a mixture of open market sale and discount market rent in our Wembley Central scheme.

It’s important that we try and cater for a wide range of occupiers. It’s that range of people that keeps London going and makes it such a wonderful and diverse place. Extremes create ghettos. Happy, mixed, communities serve us all.

Steve Sanham is development director at HUB

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