Prices have been revealed for new homes at Peabody’s flagship Thamesmead development at the former Tavy Bridge, with a three bed flat and balcony costing £558,900.
That’s for a flat on the seventh floor. A three-bed flat without an exterior balcony on the second floor (the cheapest three-bed I could find on a price list sent to me) is £542,700. It appears prices have jumped by tens of thousands in a number of months. No wonder Peabody built a “wonder centre” nearby.
This site is in one of the most deprived parts of London. Is it a coincidence that family homes are being converted to 9-person Homes of Multiple Occupation elsewhere in the town.
While the new development looks good, it’s seen a number of cut backs in design as reported on this site. The library and community building has been reduced in size from 1670 square metres in 2016 to 1349 square metres. The original architect and contractor of housing blocks was removed in early 2019. Building design was simplified with detailing that could increase build costs dropped. In terms of public space, a central water feature was removed in an application submitted in 2020.
The development replaces Tavy Bridge which was half demolished then sat empty for almost a decade as Peabody failed to build. They finally started in 2018-19. We see similar lethargy nearby as the company demolished homes along Harrow Manorway without submitting a planning application for replacement homes. Promises have come and gone. The last statement was an application would be submitted for this area by the end of 2020. Still no sign.
A third plot is now to be demolished for a new area named “Lesnes”. A consultation on that scheme last year shows private renters having no say in a vote nor any compensation for being forced to move. A Peabody presentation in late 2020 completely ignored private renters and stated “the existing residents within the part of the application site subject to demolition are intended to be permanently re-housed in Peabody’s new properties“. Not true. It went unquestioned at a Bexley Council meeting. The failure to acknowledge or support all residents ensures more people asking Bexley Council for housing help as being “decanted”, adding to a source of the authority’s current financial problems with temporary housing costs for households. Social tenants will see above inflation rent rises each year after completion.
No doubt some will say it’s 10 minutes walk from Abbey Wood station as a sort of justification for these prices – though this part of Thamesmead was never as cut off as the myth states. Abbey Wood station has always had fast and frequent links to central London. From completion of Thamesmead in the ’60s, fast trains reached London Bridge in 25 minutes. Charing Cross was possible in less than 30. There was eight trains an hour at certain times. Tavy Bridge residents always had access to very good transport links.
These new flat prices are far, far above local housing costs. A three-bed house in the area is almost half the price of the proposed cost of a flat and no further from Abbey Wood station. These prices are the result – in part- of trying to use private flats to cross subside social housing. Perhaps not a bad model in theory, but when the private housing is so expensive the model it’s deeply flawed. The only way many people can afford this is due to government props in housing – and we saw more announced last week by the chancellor. The danger is when they come to sell negative equity is at play.
A two-tier housing market is the result. Social tenants get a right to return – though their children have little to no chance of buying or renting locally as there is no net increase in truly low cost rented units. Private tenants are shunted out and forgotten. Buyers run the risk of overextending to buy a flat using taxpayer support. Underlying housing problems are not being addressed. Where do people on an average wage buy as this model becomes the norm? Only through putting themselves and taxpayers at ever greater risk.