Press release

Press Release: 22 October 2015

HRH The Princess Royal visits Hackney starter homes

  • HRH The Princess Royal and Housing Minister Brandon Lewis visited a starter home in Hackney on Tuesday to find out more about how the housing crisis is impacting local first time buyers.
  • She paid a visit to a Pocket development at Marcon Place near Hackney Downs station.
  • Pocket is building a second development for local first time buyers in Homerton.

HRH The Princess Royal visited an affordable starter home in Hackney on Tuesday to learn more about innovative ways to tackle London’s growing housing crisis.

The Princess spent the morning talking to local first time buyers who had previously found themselves priced out of the property market and salaried out of social housing.

Housing Minister Brandon Lewis MP and Hackney’s housing chief Cllr Philip Glanville joined her on the Hackney visit. 

Pocket built 28 one bedroom apartments at Marcon Place for moderate-income Londoners, at a discount of 30% of the local market rate. These homes make a lasting addition to London’s affordable housing stock as the next buyer must also meet the same income eligibility criteria, therefore they remain affordable in perpetuity.  Pocket buyers own 100% of their home; this differs from more complicated shared equity schemes.

Pocket flats are carefully designed to optimise space and light, with floor to ceiling windows which make for a spacious feeling, while the layout gives the owner well-sized distinct rooms. Each building is individually designed by award winning architects and usually contain 20-50 units, with shared communal space to help build close-knit communities.    

Local first time buyers moved into Marcon Place, Hackney’s first Pocket development which contains 28 one bedroom apartments, this summer. A second affordable development in Hackney of 29 one bedroom apartments is planned for next year.

Commenting on the royal visit, Pocket Chief Executive Marc Vlessing said:

“We were honoured that Her Royal Highness chose to pay a visit to one of our affordable developments. We are planning a second development in Hackney for next year which will help more local people into homeownership.”

Pocket buyer Mike Tsang said:

“I didn't think I'd be able to get on the housing ladder but finding Pocket was a stroke of good luck for me - they were both affordable and allowed me to stay in the area of London that I feel is my home.”


Notes to Editors 

About Pocket:

  • Pocket’s business model is to build affordable housing, without public subsidy, sold outright to buyers at a discount to the local market of at least 20%. 
  • The company works closely with local councils to develop smaller infill sites on brownfield land where a market developer would normally not provide much, if any, affordable housing. 
  • All Pocket buyers are singles and couples, and their current average household income is around £40,000.
  • To ensure these homes reach the people they're intended for, each year the Mayor sets the maximum household income for eligible buyers and the maximum price of a flat. Buy-to-let investors are excluded, and Pocket leases ensure that on resale the homes remain affordable as they can only be sold to eligible buyers. 
  • Buyers of Pocket homes own 100% of the property from day one, so they have no extra rent to pay and no uncertainty.
  • In Autumn 2013 Pocket was awarded a £21.7m loan for 10 years from the Mayor of London to build around 4000 affordable homes across London. This was followed by a £30m loan facility from Lloyds Banking Group.
  • For more information please visit