Lack of affordable housing is diminishing our mixed neighbourhood

The news of 88 affordable homes being completed across three sites in Fitzrovia is good news, but the number of homes is far short of what we should expect from planning policy and S106 agreements.

Row of Georgian houses.

Many people paying relatively low rents in the private sector have been forced out as landowners refurbish modest homes to create pimped-up luxury flats. The majority of homes being built or refurbished are luxury apartments and creating a very different neighbourhood.

At the Fitzroy Place development, out of 291 homes only 54 (17 percent) are affordable and only 40 of those are for social rent.

Likewise the 13 affordable homes at Suffolk House (3 more are to be built elsewhere) are connected to the massive Saatchi Block redevelopment at 80 Charlotte Street (refused by Camden but passed by Mayor Boris Johnson). These amount to half of what planning policy requires.

A proposed redevelopment of a site in Cleveland Street plans 105 flats, but only 15 (less than 11 percent by area) would be affordable. Yet Westminster’s planning policy states a target of 35 percent.

Historically Fitzrovia has been a very mixed area. Currently about a third of people live in social rented housing, another third pay market rents in the private rented sector, and a third are homeowners.

Many people paying relatively low rents in the private sector have been forced out of the district as landowners refurbish modest homes to create pimped-up luxury flats, as happened in Cleveland Street and New Cavendish Street in 2012 and Huntley Street in 2013.

The recent s106 agreements are only providing about 15 percent of new homes for social rent. The overwhelming majority of homes being built or refurbished are luxury apartments and creating a very different neighbourhood.

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