London’s a big place, and most developers think big when it comes to land. Big regeneration opportunities with big profits attached. At Pocket, we take a different approach. Our mission is to provide as much affordable housing as we can on a site, so we tend to favour ‘infill’ sites; land that either doesn’t have any particular purpose, or is no longer used for the purpose it was previously intended. Idle land. This includes old garage sites which have become under-used storage facilities for junk, community centres which are not used by the community any more, or just spaces between buildings.
It makes sense to develop these sites. They’re already within an existing community, they can tap into the existing infrastructure and services, they allow the densification of London, rather than pushing its urban boundary out into the green belt. Here are some examples of the ‘before’ and ‘after’ of ongoing projects which are a fairly typical plot size of anything up to 1 acre:
Marischal Road SE13, Lewisham. Disused garages. 0.185 acres. 26 Pocket homes
This site in Marischal Road SE13 is perfect for Pocket. We’ve designed a scheme that brings 26 Pocket compact apartments to Lewisham, just a stone’s throw from the bustling market, shopping centre and excellent transport links of Lewisham DLR and overland. We’re starting construction in August 2015, with sales going live in Spring 2016.
Rosina Street E9, Hackney. Disused pub. 0.1 acres. 29 Pocket homes
This pub in Rosina Street E9 was previously run-down and abandoned; it hadn’t seen any licensed business for years, but had become a venue for quite undesirable (and illegal) activity. We’re not generally interested in replacing local pubs with apartments, but in this case we’re confident our new Pocket scheme in Hackney will make a positive contribution to the area. We’re also starting the construction of this scheme in August 2015, and the 29 affordable homes will go on sale to local first time buyers in Spring 2016.
Western Road UB2, Ealing. Disused community centre. 0.42 acres. 36 Pocket homes.
This site in the heart of Southall was previously known as the Albert Dane centre. It hadn’t been used for years, and was in a state of disrepair. The local community had no plans to refurbish it, or indeed the funds to do so. Instead, we will be providing local people with the chance to get their foot on the housing ladder in an increasingly popular, but still affordable, area of London. There will be 36 Pocket compact one bedroom apartments, and a big garden with allotments for residents, and sales launch in September 2015.
Idle land – important for London, and the world
McKinsey have produced a great report about affordable housing globally, which identifies ‘idle land’ as being an important part of the solution to the world’s affordable housing challenge. If you don’t have time to read the report, watch Sangeeth Ram’s personal account of why owning a home is important, and the role idle land can play in making this a reality in the world’s burgeoning urban population.
Help us find idle land in London
Pocket is looking for land in almost all the London boroughs, focusing on Zones 3 and 4 where there are good transport links. We’re currently active in Camden, Ealing, Hackney, Lambeth, Lewisham and Wandsworth, and are in discussions with Barnet, Brent, Haringey, Kingston, Southwark and Waltham Forest. Where the typical Pocket site has been under an acre to date, we are now scaling up to taking on bigger sites of up to two acres. The London Land Commission are promising to map all available public land in London, but it’s a big task and we’re worried they will overlook these all important smaller sites. If you can think of a site that might be perfect for Pocket homes, drop us a line: firstname.lastname@example.org