Princess Anne pops into Hackney to see how ‘pocket’ flats help London’s housing crisis

Princess Royal meets first-time home-buyer at Homerton's low-cost 'Pocket' housing scheme

Princess Royal meets first-time home-buyer at Homerton's low-cost 'Pocket' housing scheme - Credit: Archant

Princess Anne popped down to Hackney today to look at low-cost starter homes and find out more about tackling London’s housing crisis. She spent the morning talking to first-time buyers at a new ‘Pocket’ housing complex by Hackney Downs who had previously found themselves priced out of the property market — but earning too much for council social housing.

The Princess meets first-time buyer Mike Tsang

The Princess meets first-time buyer Mike Tsang - Credit: Archant

The Princess Royal joined Hackney Council’s housing member Philip Glanville on the visit to see 28 one-bedroom apartments at Marcon Place for moderate-income earners which are sold at a 30 per cent discount below the local property market rate.

“This development is for those on low and middle incomes able to buy a home of their own,” Cllr Glanville explained.

“We need more homes of all tenures to keep Hackney a place where people of all backgrounds live and work together amid the housing crisis.”

The properties are a permanent addition to east London’s ‘affordable’ housing stock because the next buyer must also meet the same criteria, so they remain at the low-cost end of the market in perpetuity, the Princess was told. The buyers own 100 per cent of their home, unlike more complicated shared equity schemes.

Princess Anne at Hackney's new 'Pocket' housing complex

Princess Anne at Hackney's new 'Pocket' housing complex - Credit: Archant

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The apartments—or ‘Pocket flats’—are designed to optimise space and light, with floor to ceiling windows which give a spacious feeling, while the layout gives good-sized rooms. Each block usually has 20 to 50 flats, with shared communal space to help build close-knit communities.

First-time buyers moved this summer into Marcon Place, Hackney’s first ‘Pocket’ development of 28 one-bedroom flats, with a second development planned for the New Year.

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The Pocket company works with local authorities to develop smaller ‘in fill’ sites where a commercial developer would normally not provide much low-cost housing.

All its buyers are singles and couples with average household income around £40,000. The Mayor sets the maximum household income each year for eligible buyers and the maximum price of a flat.

Buy-to-let investors are excluded. The leases make sure the flats remain affordable on resale as they can only be sold to eligible buyers.

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