Big Issue Vendor

Developer of ‘micro’ flats to build 1,000 affordable homes in London

Mayor of London commits £25 million to help Pocket Living build below-market housing aimed at first-time buyers

In recent weeks The Big Issue has been looking at big ideas to address the housing crisis, examining new solutions to get more homes built.

The Mayor of London Sadiq Khan believes he has found one, committing £25 million to help developer Pocket Living create more than 1,000 “affordable” homes, flats typically sold at least 20% below market rates.

Pocket Living has specialized in building “micro” flats in the capital, with many smaller than 400 square feet.

The company boasts it delivers quick builds, having adopted “off-site” construction techniques, with most parts of the home prefabricated in factories before being craned in and assembled on site.

The £25 million additional funding from the Mayor’s office will help acquire brownfield sites suitable for high-density flats. Pocket Living has committed to building (or at least starting) 1,059 homes, both one and two bedroom, by March 2021.

The sum will be paid back by the end of the next decade, under the terms of the deal announced today.

We have simply not built enough new and affordable homes in the capital

Good news for the delivery of new housing, perhaps. But those interested in the decline in space standards in London may have concerns. Pocket Living had applied to previous Mayor of London Boris Johnson for exemptions to the city’s minimum space requirements.

Back in 2013, Pocket Living CEO Mark Vlessing told The Guardian: “I can show you a 500sq ft flat that would be more space standard compliant which, if badly designed, you would not want to live in, but can show you a 400sq ft flat in which you would.”

But Mayor Sadiq Khan believes the Pocket Living homes will give first-time buyers their chance to get a foot on the ladder.

“For decades, we have simply not built enough new and affordable homes in the capital, meaning that for too many Londoners the dream of buying their own home is getting further out of reach,” he said.

Vlessing added: “We are proud to receive the Mayor’s backing for Pocket Living’s award-winning approach to design and the use of modern methods of construction to help those priced-out and not eligible for social housing to get onto the property ladder.”

For seven big ideas to fix the housing crisis, click here.