Home sweet Pumpkin – fully booked for 1st phase viewings at Western Road UB2  

1st phase viewings at Western Road UB2 fully booked

Becoming a homeowner means all sorts of things – one of which is having your very own front door to showcase your pumpkin-carving skills.  It so happens that tomorrow, Saturday 31st October 2015, is Halloween, and we have invited nearly 30 potential buyers for our latest development in Western Road UB2, Southall, to visit our Camden show flat.  We have back-to-back appointments, and while the launch has absolutely nothing to do with Halloween (although we may have some spooky sweets to keep our sales team and their visitors going through the busy day), it could mean that the 1st phase of Western Road UB2, sells out before the trick or treating starts!

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JLL Innovators Research : Pocket

 

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Like marriage, the secret to a successful first time home purchase is compromise.

In what has become a supply-starved London housing market effected by rapidly rising prices, Pocket have built their model around the one facet that first time buyers are not willing to compromise on – location.

The London-based developer prioritises location over size allowing it to deliver first-time buyer homes in good commuting locations at a minimum of 20% below the open market rate capped at the current top price of £260,000.

“Pocket brings a rational approach together with the sort of design flair that makes spaces feel generous and desirable. As the current crisis forces new thinking, Pocket’s initiatives provide a positive example to other housing providers when new ideas are thin on the ground.” Peter Murray, New London Architecture

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Festivalling the Pocket way!

Go to Glastonbury?  Or keep local, stay dry, sleep in a nice warm bed?

muddy glastonbury  cosy bed

Getting muddy at Glastonbury this weekend?  It’s obviously the icon of all festivals – but there is another way.  At Pocket we like to skip the horrors of the M4, the queues for the showers, the mud up to our knees.  We like to stay local and enjoy the festival spirit a bit closer to home… with the promise of a guaranteed shower and a warm bed at the end of the day!  Wherever you live in London, there’s almost certainly a festival of sorts in your local area.  They might not all be the Notting Hill Carnival, but small and intimate beats big and brash every time in our book (just like our flats!).  We’ve done a quick scan of all the areas where our city makers are most likely to live, and come up with this roundup of London’s local festivals taking place this summer, and beyond.

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How to help London stay successful – a snapshot of Ed Glaeser’s recent visit to our city

By Lucian Smithers, Director of Sales and Marketing, Pocket

At Pocket we have all read ‘The Triumph of the City’ by Ed Glaeser. Glaeser’s views about what makes cities great and how they can remain successful give heavyweight academic substance to Pocket’s belief in delivering starter homes for London’s city makers – you could even say we’re groupies.

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So you can imagine our excitement at the prospect of hearing him talk in the UK last month at Warwick Business school’s outpost in the Shard.  He was also interviewed in the Guardian, and even better, he popped in to visit Pocket and hear more about our philosophy and business model – we think he liked it!

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Glaeser’s work focuses on the power of successful cities. Note the word “successful.” His studies cover huge geographical and historical distances to find the lessons about how great cities have managed to thrive and in some cases come back from the brink.  And his visit to London meant he gave some thought to the similarities, and differences, between the UK and our friends across the Atlantic.  He pulls out the simplest observations from a huge set of data and experiences, and here are some of the nuggets of genius that we took away for London: (more…)

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Unlocking London’s Housing Potential – what more can we do?

Last year, the London Chamber of Commerce and Industry (LCCI) produced a very useful report into housing in London, ‘Getting our house in order’.  The report aimed to build a ‘business case’ for the creation of more homes in the Capital, noting the urgent need for more homes at all levels in London, and urging Government (national, regional and local) to work together to deliver more homes for London’s workforce.

This week LCCI has published a follow-up paper, Unlocking London’s Housing Potential’, focusing on one of the main recommendations in their original report – the release of public land for housing. Public land release is especially important for the development of affordable housing yet, as Pocket is quoted as saying in the report, it can take up to four times longer to acquire land and planning on public sector sites in London than private acquisitions.  This can be crippling for a small developer like Pocket.

Housing for the people who make London tick

More needs to be done to support the development of housing in London, especially housing that is specifically designed for the crucial workforce that keeps the city ticking. The report highlights that ‘51% of London firms believe the lack of housing… was the issue having the most impact on their business…’.  London needs the right kind of housing in the right locations in order to keep these talented and valuable people living in, and contributing to, their communities.  We have been banging this drum since Pocket started building affordable homes, so it’s great to have more voices added to this call. (more…)

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Is it really a compromise to have less living space?

The London property market is getting more and more expensive, so it makes sense that young buyers are finding they need to ‘compromise’ to get their foot on the housing ladder – moving to less popular, less central areas is all part of London’s evolution, and buyers are expecting less and less space as they go further out.  But is having less space really a compromise?

More space costs more to furnish, more to heat, and gives you more room to keep more stuff, while today’s young workforce is trying to minimize all of this.

Are we suffering from Stuffocation?

James Wallman’s book Stuffocation (www.stuffocation.org) describes that, the consumer culture of the west is starting to wane; people are finding that more does not mean better. He looks at this from a range of angles and all the indicators seem to be pointing in the same direction. The new digital generation coming of age now can be viewed from various intellectual perspectives:

  • Political scientists say they have grown up in relative stability and therefore don’t feel the need to hoard material goods
  • Environmentalists will tell you that the threat of global warming has meant a greater consciousness of consumption
  • Psychologists note that earning more and buying more doesn’t equate to happiness
  • Economists also point out that in a world of rising costs and stagnating incomes, most people simply do not have the money to keep buying more stuff
  • Technologists tell us the reason why we are turning away from material goods is, actually, because we can. After all, what’s the point of owning physical books and CDs when you can access them from the cloud?

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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/

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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. (more…)

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