All posts by Frances Traynor

Canning Town

Canning Town regeneration a boon for home buyers

A £3.7 billion regeneration project is set to transform Canning Town in London’s east end.

Around 10,000 new homes will be built as part of the development with upgrades to the local transport network.

The biggest project is at Hallsville Quarter, where 1,100 new homes will be created on a 15-acre site near Canning Town station at a cost of £600 million.

Community facilities

Of those homes, a third will be affordable and marketed for those on low and middle incomes.

The latest part of the project will include a retail area with shops, restaurants and facilities such as a health centre.

Canning Town has an Underground station while the Docklands Light Railway (DLR) also runs through the station.

Area-wide projects

Crossrail, the rail project to connect London’s stations from east to west, will also stop near to Canning Town at the newly created Custom House station once complete.

Average property prices in Canning Town are now £439,000.

Meanwhile, Newham Borough Council is considering planning applications for the redevelopment of Custom House, plans that include 800-900 new homes, community facilities and improved local shops.

State school property price premium falls by £32k

The house price premium for living close to the UK’s top 100 state secondary schools has dramatically fallen.

According to new research from Santander, the price premium for parents keen to secure a spot for their offspring at the best non-fee-paying schools has fallen from 15 percent to 5 percent in the last year.

That means an actual financial drop of £32,100.

Catchment area crucial for parents

In 2018, parents moving into the catchment area of the best state schools were paying a premium of £51,600. In 2019, that has fallen to £19,500.

More than a quarter (26 percent) of parents said they were willing to pay a premium to ensure their child got a place at their preferred state school, with £20,000 the average extra willing to be paid.

Parents rate proximity to a good school as more important than being close to good transport links, family and friends.

Boost to buyers

Meanwhile, the Santander research has revealed that parents start thinking about school places long before their child is ready to pull on a uniform for the first time.

Seven percent think about schools when planning a family, 6 percent when pregnant and 22 percent shortly after their child is born.

Miguel Sard, managing director of Santander UK, said: “The recent property market slowdown has seen house prices in many school catchment hotspots cool significantly, giving an unexpected boost to parents looking to move near to sought-after state schools.

“With many parents planning for their child’s education straight after or even before their baby is born, and properties in top school catchments now more accessible, competition for school places looks set to be fiercer than ever.”

London’s green spaces growing

Rooftop Garden 2

The walls and roofs of London are helping to keep the capital green.

A decade-long policy, part of the creation of the Ultra Low Emission Zone, has led to the “greening” of buildings that has resulted in new developments that host roof gardens, create greener public realm and offer a home for wildlife.

New figures show that London has more than 40 percent of the UK’s green roofs and walls, representing around 1.5 million square metres of space. Green space that includes plants and vegetation helps to reduce air pollution.

Urban gardens

In Barnet, urban greening is being promoted at a new development that is creating 2,900 new homes.

Covering 47 acres, Colindale Gardens will include parks and sports pitches as well as other facilities such as a primary school and retail units.

The homes will feature green roofs and podium gardens, while the development will also include wildlife habitats, allotments and an area for urban agriculture.

House price growth a reason for London property sellers to be cheerful

Home sellers in London have had some good news with new house price data showing the first year-on-year price growth in the capital since 2017.

Rightmove’s monthly house price index has revealed several reasons to be cheerful for those looking to sell up in London.

Annual rise a boost

The price of property coming on to the market is up by 1.3 percent on the same month a year ago, the first time since August 2017 there has been an annual rise.

With the summer months usually seeing a flattening of asking prices, this marks a positive change for those keen to secure a sale before the autumn.

Meanwhile, the number of sales agreed in London is also up by 5.2 percent on the same period a year ago.

Increased market activity

Miles Shipside, Rightmove director and housing market analyst, said: “Some potential buyers have sat back and watched the price of property coming to the market in the capital falling year-on-year for the last couple of years, giving many of them little incentive to do anything but sit on the sidelines.

“It’s always hard to spot the bottom of a market, especially in a massive place like London with its myriad of local markets.

“However, new seller asking prices are now 1.3 percent higher than at this time last year, and if that trend continues, buyers might decide to stop sitting it out before prices rise further.

“That could happen if we have more certainty on our Brexit outcome, and this annual price rise may be an indicator of more market activity to come.”

Buyers not inhibited

Chris Osmond, sales director at London-based Johns&Co, told Rightmove that his company has registered more buyers in the first seven months of 2019 than in the whole of 2018, suggesting that those keen to move are no longer inhibited by the prospect of Brexit.

He added: “It’s not surprising; it’s been three years since the vote and Brexit fatigue has kicked in.

“After all, life goes on and you can only put plans on hold for so long.

“We’ve also seen the number of vendors wanting to cash in on long-held investments increase, and there are plenty of canny investors on the periphery looking for good deals, so overall we expect the summer season surge to linger on into autumn.”

How to avoid hidden costs in your conveyancing

Revealed: London’s most affordable spots for FTBs

As house prices stagnate and even fall in London, new research has revealed the capital’s most affordable spots for first-time buyers (FTBs).

According to data from the Office for National Statistics (ONS), overall property prices across London fell by 2.7 percent compared to 12 months ago with flat prices showing the sharpest drop of all at 4.3 percent.

Meanwhile, the Telegraph commissioned Savills Research and Zoopla to uncover the most affordable areas for FTBs in London.

East is best to buy

The research shows the average deposit is now more than £100,000 in the capital, and even with schemes such as Help to Buy, many newcomers to home ownership simply cannot afford to buy in London.

Savills and Zoopla looked at average incomes for 18-30-year-olds in each borough and compared those to the average price of a flat or terraced house locally.

The most affordable area is Beckton in the borough of Newham where the average price for a flat or terrace is £161,267. The average salary is just over £55,000 in Beckton.

Next most affordable is Island Gardens in Tower Hamlets. There the average salary among the younger demographic is £97,000, and that is reflected in the average price of a flat or terrace at £284,042.

Homes within reach

Chelsfield and Pratts Bottom in Bromley and Kenley in Croydon are also within reach of FTBs. Flats and terraces in these areas cost 3.25 times the average salaries for 18-30-year-olds – the Bromley average property price is £220,604 and in Croydon £201,770.

The research revealed that even in the more expensive boroughs, FTBs on higher-than-average salaries can still get on the property ladder.

For example, the North End ward in Hammersmith and Fulham has flats or terraces selling for an average £520,000, fives times the average salary for younger people.

High deposits required

Lawrence Bowles conducted the research for the Telegraph. He said: “As many young people in London share properties, rather than living by themselves, household incomes can be rather high.

“But that doesn’t mean those households can or want to buy together, which partly explains why many are still struggling to get on the property ladder.”

And Richard Donnell, head of research at Zoopla, said: “While affordability in London has improved, deposit levels remain over £100,000, making schemes such as Help to Buy London an attractive proposition.”

Former Milkybar factory to become new west London village

Nestlé's factory at Hayes, Middlesex

An iconic chocolate factory is to become the site of 1,386 homes in west London.

The Nestle’s factory at Hayes once made Milkybars but closed in 2015.

Now developers Barratt are reimagining the site as a new neighbourhood, retaining the factory’s Art Deco facades and entrance way while original features such as staircases and machinery will be incorporated into the new apartment blocks.

Iconic site

At its highest point of production in the 1950s, the Hayes factory employed more than 2,000 people, churning out the chocolate bar made famous by adverts featuring a cherubic blond cowboy and the iconic phrase “the Milkybars are on me”.

The new development will be close to a new Crossrail station that is expected to be open in 2020. It will include more than seven acres of green space and walking trails, while the existing canal towpath is to be upgraded. Workspace for small businesses will form part of the project.

Historic past

The original factory was established by Eugen Sandow, a strongman who made his fortune in early Hollywood starring in Charlie Chaplin films.

He retired in 1913 and set up the Sandow Cocoa Works. Nestle bought the factory from him in 1929, establishing its first production site outside of its native Switzerland.

The new Barratt site will be named Hayes Village.

Barnet scheme to deliver affordable homes in north-west London

London’s mayor has intervened and overturned a decision not to grant planning permission for a major development in the north-west of the capital.

Now the project will go ahead and deliver 844 new homes in Mill Hill, with 41 percent of those affordable.

Barnet Council had rejected the plans to redevelop the disused Pentavia Retail Park a year ago, citing that the scheme was over-development and did not provide enough affordable housing.

Positive intervention

Mayor Sadiq Khan then “called in” the planning application, which originally included 724 homes with only 35 percent of those affordable.

Since Mr Khan’s intervention, the developers have gone back to the drawing board, adding an extra 120 homes to their original plan. The level of affordable homes on the whole development has also risen to 41 percent and include some at social rent and London Living Rent levels.

The latest incarnation of the scheme now given the nod by Mr Khan will deliver more affordable homes than the whole of Barnet provided in 2017-18.

Significant number of homes

Mr Khan said: “This is the classic example of an underused site with the potential to deliver significant numbers of homes, including affordable homes at social rent and London Living Rent levels.

“It’s testament to the hard work of my planning team that, since I called this application in for further scrutiny, they have been able to increase the level of affordable housing even higher than it was previously.”

Flats smaller than a parking space the result of relaxed planning rules

Open Space 3 - 1st July 2010 -09- parking space

Plans for flats that would be smaller than a London cab could be given the go-ahead around the capital.

A report in The Times said developers are taking advantage of a relaxation in planning rules that allows offices to be converted into residential property.

Warehouse conversion

The report outlines how one project in Purley in south London was approved by council officials in Croydon. It involved turning a ground-floor office into two flats, one of 8.3 square metres (89 square feet) and the other of 9 square metres (97 square feet).

According to The Times, the minimum standard required for a parking space is 11.7 square metres.

The latest development is to convert warehouse and offices in Barnet, north London, into 107 flats with more than half of those not having any external windows. Instead 56 of the flats would look out on to an internal “atrium garden” with natural light coming from seven skylights in the roof.

Lacking basic necessities

The Times quoted Julia Park, head of housing research at Levitt Bernstein architects, describing the Barnet development as “more like a battery farm than a housing development”.

She said: “Space, daylight and ventilation are basic necessities and this is lacking in all three.”

The relaxation in planning rules mean that a typical studio apartment can be less than London’s legal minimum of 37 square metres where residents share amenities.

The Barnet scheme has not yet been given the green light. A local residents group has objected to the plan, calling it a “cynical exploitation of planning loopholes”.

Number of new homes registered in London on rise

The number of new homes registered in London has more than doubled this year.

New figures from the NHBC, which provides warranties and insurance for new homes across the UK, have revealed that more than 7,000 new homes were registered with it in London between March and May, a rise of 125 percent on the same period last year.

Increase in developments

Across the UK, more than 16,000 new homes were registered to be built in May, up 11 percent on 2018.

The NHBC said there has been new house building growth in eight out of 12 UK regions. London in particular is standing because a large number of new developments have started in 2019.

Encouraged by figures

Steve Wood, chief executive of the NHBC, said: “It is encouraging to see such strong figures in May.

“This has been helped by the increase in the private rental sector and the upturn in London, fuelled by inward investors as well as new developments from established players.

“Of course, we will be working with developers to maintain and improve the quality of the new homes.”

Leaseholders burdened by costs and worry

The cost of leasehold is more than simply financial for many homeowners, according to new research.

A survey by the National Association of Estate Agents (NAEA) has revealed that homeowners who own a leasehold property pay on average £319 every year on ground rent.

That means the domestic leasehold market in England and Wales amounts to some £447 million every year.

Affects quality of life

However, the financial costs are only one element of leasehold. One in 10 of those quizzed by the NAEA said paying for leasehold and worrying about rising costs affects their quality of life.

One in 10 had also seen their ground rent rising since they had moved into their home, usually within seven years of taking possession. One in five (19 percent) didn’t understand from their leasehold contract by how much their ground rent would rise.

And almost half (46 percent) told the survey they might not have bought their home if they had had any idea of the true costs of leasehold.

Investigation into mis-selling

The Government has promised to reform the leasehold system in England and Wales. Leasehold means a homeowner must pay rent on the land on which their property stands for a specific period of time to the landlord or freeholder.

The Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) has launched its own investigation into alleged mis-selling of leasehold properties with buyers claiming they face escalating ground rent charges and expensive fees that combine to make their property unsellable.

The investigation aims to discover if people are fully informed of how leasehold works and their obligations under the system, while also investigating claims of excessive fees and unfair contracts.

Emotional investment

Mark Hayward, chief executive of the NAEA, said: “Buying a home is one of the biggest financial and emotional investments we make in our lifetime, and once we’ve completed and moved in, we should be able to enjoy the property.

“But, unfortunately for those buying leasehold houses, the financial burdens continue, with ground rent payments to the freehold every year.

“Even though many leasehold contracts include a 10-year ground rent freeze, most developers sell the freehold on to a third party within a few years of completion, and those terms go out the window, meaning homeowners are faced with unexpected and escalating costs.

“It’s positive to see action being taken, with the recent announcement that the CMA will be investigating the mis-selling of leasehold properties, as for too long house builders and developers have not been transparent enough about what it actually means to buy a leasehold property.”

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