Move forward for Hackney’s affordable housing bid

Macron Place

Macron Place - Credit: Archant

A housing developer is working to tackle Hackney’s housing crisis by targeting Londoners who are priced out of the affordable property market and salaried out of social housing.

Pocket aims to provide homes for those on a yearly household income below £66,000 – the Mayor of London’s threshold for affordable housing.

A 28-home development at Marcon Place in Hackney Central is Pocket’s first project, made possible after securing a £21.7 million loan from the Mayor of London’s Housing Covenant.

Buyers get complete ownership of their homes rather than entering a complicated shared equity scheme.

Flats are priced at least 20 per cent below market rate, with one-bedroom flats costing £231,000 and studios costing £169,000. Co-founder and CEO Marc Vlessing said Pocket could offer this due to securing the loan and building smaller properties with an increased profit margin.

Mr Vlessing said: “To make it a really absurdly simple argument: you could get three two-bedroom flats and eight one-bedroom flats in the same space, and so the margin is much lower than on the one-beds.”

The homes are built using a sustainable compact design with underfloor heating, large windows and smart storage areas to maximise space and light.

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Mr Vlessing said: “We only sell to people with incomes that fall below £66,000 and in Marcon Place we did a deal with Hackney Council to target people earning below £40,000 for a period of time.

“To make this remain affordable for the second buyer, when you buy a flat from us you commit to reselling to somebody who earns less than the threshold for affordable housing.”

He added all of Pocket’s profits would be delayed for 10 years and reinvested into building more homes.

“The escalator effect is huge and we think we are going to be a meaningful contributor to the market over the next five years,” he said.

“I’d like to think that Pocket is one of the new kids on the block doing something different.

“Although we are private sector we are providing a public good and have a clear social mission.

“To do a job where you feel like you are doing some public good as well as earning your crust is nice and I think we are breaking down a lot of barriers. Frankly, it is a privilege.”

Philip Glanville, Hackney Council’s cabinet member for housing, said: “The launch of these new homes in Hackney by Pocket is a welcome addition to our partnership working as a council to develop more, and varied, home ownership options for Hackney residents.”

The Hackney Borough Council ward member for Hoxton added: “Across London and in Hackney we need more innovation and investment, and Pocket has a real role to play in increasing the supply of new homes, ” said.

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