Property developer Pocket Living has signed a £9 million deal to acquire a site in East London’s Leyton, where it plans to build 200 new homes.
It marks the developer’s biggest ever purchase and is part of its goal to build 1,059 affordable homes in the capital over the next three years.
The company is known for making compact one-bedroom homes totalling 38 square metres – that’s the size of a London Underground train carriage – which are sold to first-time buyers who live or work locally and who earn below a certain amount.
It also offers a small number of two- and three-bed flats called Pocket Edition homes, which are available without restriction to anyone from across the capital.
The 200 homes in Leyton will be offered at a discount to the local market of at least 20%.
The deal was funded using £150 million of new loans from Lloyds Bank, the Homes and Communities Agency (now Homes England) and the Mayor of London, agreed last September.
Pocket Living, which was co-founded by former Natwest banker Marc Vlessing and Paul Harbard, an ex-finance chief at Peabody Trust, has previously built in areas such as Camden, Lambeth and Hackney.
It comes after Sadiq Khan gave the green light to a scheme in Addiscombe in Croydon, which will deliver affordable homes using offsite construction.
The 21-storey building will be developed by Pocket Living, who will build the homes off-site in its factory before transporting them into the capital.
The assembled homes are craned into place in a method that enables the developer to build 32 flats in 10 days. It means Pocket can develop small sites across the capital because the process causes minimal disruption to nearby residents.
The new development at Addiscombe will provide 153 homes for the area, of which 70% will be sold at a discount to the market price. The remaining homes will be shared ownership properties.
“Tackling London’s housing crisis requires bold new approaches,” said Khan. “We know turning things round will take time, but off-site construction is an innovative way to speed up building the affordable homes our city needs. I invested in Pocket Living to help them build genuinely affordable homes that are sold to local people first.”
Smaller schemes include the development of 25 homes in Kingston, a scheme that was designed by RIBA Stirling Prize winner Haworth Tompkins. The design takes inspiration from Cowleaze Road’s industrial heritage and it’s due to complete this month.
DealMakerz reckons Pocket Living is a good option for millennials who can’t afford extortionate house prices and rents.
The homes are defined as “intermediate affordable” housing and the company has an annual checking process to ensure they remain in the affordable arena in perpetuity.
Smaller homes not only means smaller prices, but also let developers take advantage of planning loopholes, such as the ability to circumvent size restrictions when converting offices to homes, to build homes as small as 12 to 30 square metres.
Pocket Living is proving popular – it reportedly has a waiting list of more than 35,000 people wanting to buy its one-bedroom apartments.