Marcon Place E8 – nearly there

Marcon Place E8 will be the next Pocket building to welcome residents – 28 city makers will be moving into their very first homes, just a stone’s throw from Hackney Downs station, within the next couple of months.  We’re in the final throes of construction, and the Pocket team went to check on progress last week.  This handsome brick building is looking really good, especially in the Spring sunshine!  It was amazing to stand in the courtyard and imagine the activity this central communal outdoor space will be seeing over the years to come.  The external stairwells have a striking red paint finish, with lovely tactile timber hand rails, and there’s specially-designed timber slatting to allow views into the courtyard.  We’re introducing the residents to each other this week at a local wine bar, and now all we need is a move in date!  The last few weeks of a construction project are always tight and slightly stressful as we try to achieve all the sign-offs and checks to confirm that the building is ready for occupation, and manage the expectations and excitement of the buyers.  Not long to go now, Pocket people!

A Royal Visit

At Pocket, we’re proud to be a business that straddles the public and private sectors.  This is a pretty unusual position for a property developer, but for a property developer that focuses solely on the intermediate market, it’s an obvious position to take.  It means we work a lot with Local Authorities, and we talk to lots of private institutions about collaborating on projects and to raise money.  But one institution we hadn’t spoken to before last week, was the British Monarchy.  It hadn’t really occurred to us, despite the interest that certain members have traditionally shown in the built environment.

So when we were contacted by the office of HRH Princess Anne, we weren’t quite sure what to expect.  HRH is President of CSCLeaders, a global leadership programme for 100 exceptional senior leaders, selected each year from government, business and NGOs across the 53 countries of the Commonwealth.  This year’s challenge for the participants is ‘What makes a city smart?’; we talked to 10 delegates about Pocket’s role in delivering intermediate housing for London, and especially about how we bring together the public and private sectors to do so.

HRH Princess Anne joined us for part of the presentation, and stayed behind afterwards to hear more about Pocket’s specific projects and future plans.  She was a very engaged guest with well-informed views, and it was a pleasure to introduce her to Pocket.  As well as feeling honoured to have been selected by CSCLeaders to participate this year, we were also pretty thrilled to have such a distinguished guest, and enjoyed watching her discrete cavalcade slip in and out of Floral St – blink and you would have missed it!

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The plight of the first time buyer hits the stage!

It’s all over the newspapers, the despair of ordinary working Londoners struggling to get their foot on the housing ladder.  Spiralling prices, lack of housing choice, ridiculous rents all add up to a conundrum meaning it’s impossible to save, and even if you do save, there’s nothing to buy and it’s all too expensive anyway.  For some, the ‘bank of mum and dad’ is their only chance to move on, and that option isn’t available to everyone.

But what’s it actually like to be a 25-35 year old living and working in London, trying to get on in life?

Short of going back in time (and I might add that things haven’t changed so much for someone in that age bracket, it was never that easy!), a good way of reconnecting with this audience is to go and see Deposit, a play by Matt Hartley, which follows the plight of two couples who opt to live together in a tiny one bedroom flat in a bid to save deposits for their first homes. It’s all there, the pressure it puts on their relationships, both as couples and between the couples, the disparate salaries between public and private sector workers, lifestyle choices that need to be made for the sake of saving for the dream of owning your own home.  And a few other bombshells that I won’t give away here.  If only the protagonists, Rachel and Ben, Mel and Sam, had known about Pocket, it might not have imploded quite so dramatically for them!

Deposit is a brilliant snapshot of a truly worrying situation currently faced by London and its workforce.  Go see it!

http://www.hampsteadtheatre.com/whats-on/2015/deposit/

Homes for Britain rally, March 2015: Six quotes that rang true for me

This week saw over 2,000 people from Housing groups across the country converge on Parliament square and we went along to show Pocket’s support.  The objective was surprisingly simple – don’t let the housing crisis drop down the political agenda.

In the process of every general election, a range of issues start to shape the debate around the campaigns of the main parties but by the end, it’s the big beasts of Health, Education and Welfare that tend to dominate. So on Tuesday, housing associations, developers, architects, planners, social landlords and many more all came together to ensure that this doesn’t happen. The aim was to get senior politicians from all the major parties to commit to ending the housing crisis in a generation and delivering a comprehensive long term plan for housing within one year of taking office. And all credit to the organisers, they managed to get senior parliamentarians from all the major parties (and Nigel Farage) to commit to this aim. Read More

Pocket two bedroom – setting the standard for a compact two bedroom home

Customers love our Pocket one bedroom apartment design, but there are plenty of people out there who want an affordable, compact two bedroom home in London.  They might be friends buying together, a couple who have plans to start a family, or homeworkers who need the extra room.

Planning policy currently states that a two bedroom home must be a minimum of 61sqm in size, which allows for a household of three adults, and is generally unaffordable to the first time buyer market.

We thought that there might be a better offer for first time buyers looking for a two bedroom home, by using compact design to develop a proposal for two adults – a two bedroom two person offer (2b2p).

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