Press release

Press Release: 21 June 2021

Local first-time buyers move into Pocket’s latest affordable development in Wanstead

  • 20 people with a connection to Redbridge move into their first homes at Gardner Close
  • Leader of Redbridge Council visits Pocket’s first affordable development in the borough
  • Resident Sarah Essoof discusses her home buying journey: “I was close to leaving London before learning about Pocket."

Affordable housing developer Pocket Living has welcomed 20 local first-time buyers into their new homes at its Gardner Close development in Wanstead.

Formerly a disused garage site on Gardner Road, the new two-storey development comprises 20 affordable one-bedroom apartments dedicated to first-time buyers living or working in Redbridge. Designed by award-winning architects Haworth Tompkins, the development also has a communal courtyard garden for residents, with raised growing beds and purpose-build seated dining areas to allow for socialising outdoors.

Gardner Close marks Pocket Living’s first development in the borough and to celebrate its completion and the residents moving in, Leader of Redbridge Council, Councillor Jas Athwal, and Housing Cabinet member, Councillor Vanisha Solanki, visited the development on Friday 18th June.

The tour was led by Pocket’s Chief Commercial Officer Nick Cuff, and resident Sarah Essoof, and followed Councillor Athwal breaking ground at the development in 2019.

Gardner Close residents moved into their new homes over this year’s Easter Bank Holiday and celebrated with a residents’ welcome event in the communal courtyard when restrictions allowed. This included Sarah, who moved to London after university to work for a production company. Having lived in unaffordable house shares for several years she moved to South Woodford in Redbridge to be closer to family, which is when she heard about Pocket.

Speaking about her experience, Sarah Essoof, 35, comments: “I was close to leaving London before learning about Pocket. Most of my friends have moved out of the city to buy their first home, and, in fact, many didn’t even start saving as they couldn’t see buying in London as a feasible option. Now I own my own home at Gardner Close, my mortgage is half what I used to pay in rent, and I’m saving more money than I have before. I now try to spread the word about Pocket to help others who might be in a similar position to me onto the housing ladder.

“Now I am a homeowner I have a real sense of pride that I have ticked off one of life’s achievements. I love the way Pocket homes are designed, the huge floor to ceiling windows are amazing and my whole flat is filled with natural light. What’s more, there is also a great sense of community at Gardner Close. Everyone is in the same boat – we’re all first-time buyers and working professionals enjoying this experience together and have bonded really well.”

Nick Cuff, Pocket Living’s Chief Commercial Officer, adds: “We are delighted to have completed on our first development in Redbridge, and even happier to have welcomed our residents into their new homes. It is fantastic that they are already forming great friendships.

“Almost 400 eligiblepeople registered their interest in Gardner Close, and while we are so pleased to have enabled 20 Londoners with a connection to Redbridge to get their foot on the ladder, we know there is still more that needs to be done to tackle housing affordability for the next generation of buyers. Greater acceleration in the unlocking of small sites such as Gardner Close will allow us and other SME developers to deliver more affordable homes for those finding themselves priced out of their local market.”

Cllr Jas Athwal, Leader of Redbridge Council said: “Here in Redbridge, we are committed to combatting the housing crisis and making sure there are affordable houses available for local people. Pocket Living and their architects have done an excellent job in converting what was a garage site into 20 brand new homes here in Wanstead. Schemes like this and recent council building programmes at Old Mill Court and Marlyon Road are vital to ensuring local people have affordable, high quality homes and aren’t priced out of our borough.”

Cllr Vanisha Solanki, Cabinet Member for Housing and Homelessness, added: “This was my first visit to the Pocket Living scheme and I was very impressed by what I saw.  The residents are clearly delighted with their new purchases having previously not being able to afford their own properties. This is another step in the right direction in terms of providing affordable new homes for Redbridge residents.”

To be eligible to purchase a Pocket home, the prospective buyer can’t already own another property, and must live or work in the borough of the respective development. All buyers must earn under the Mayor of London’s income threshold for affordable housing.

Buyers own 100% of their property, which are sold at a minimum of a 20% discount to the local market.