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Mayor puts £25m into compact apartments

17 August 2017 | By James Kenny

Sail Street, Lambeth, is one of Pocket’s recent developments

London mayor Sadiq Khan has announced plans to invest £25m into niche London developer Pocket Living.

Thanks to the cash injection, the company, which builds affordable homes through modular construction, will now start work on at least 1,059 new homes by March 2021, with a third expected to be built offsite in a factory and dropped into place.

The funding, which will be paid back in full by the end of the next decade, will help finance ongoing site purchases for development. This will enable Pocket to raise the rate of delivery of high-density flats on small brownfield sites in the capital.

The funding package is part of the mayor’s Innovation Fund, using investment secured as part of Khan’s £3.15bn deal with government in November last year.

Pocket Living was originally formed in 2005 by Marc Vlessing, a former investment banker-turned media company chief.

The company brought the concept of the compact apartment to the capital, building one-bedroom flats for sale, on average, at 20% below market rate. It can afford this as it builds its flats smaller – at 38 sq m – than the 50 sq m usually required by the Greater London Authority’s London Plan.

Pocket builds its flats smaller than required by GLA’s London Plan to keep costs down

Affordability in perpetuity is ensured through the lease, which stipulates that the homes can only be sold to people on a household income of less than the current London Plan affordable housing earning threshold for one- and two-bedroom homes. In this way, Pocket homes remain in the affordable arena forever.

It delivered six schemes between September 2016 and February this year.

Speaking about the new investment, Khan said: “The housing crisis is the biggest challenge facing Londoners today and I have been honest from the start that we won’t be able to turn things round overnight.

“I am working with Pocket Living to build more than a thousand homes for first-time buyers, using the latest off-site construction techniques to provide attractive and affordable homes as quickly as possible.

“I will continue to use more of my £3.15bn of funding to invest in innovative schemes like this to build the genuinely affordable homes Londoners need.”

Vlessing, chief executive of Pocket, said: “Our mission has always been to open up the housing market to hard working young Londoners on low to middle incomes by delivering homes they can afford. This growing group is greatly in need of innovative housing solutions.”

The investment will be used alongside £35m of funding from the Homes and Communities Agency to build homes on the first set of sites to come forward.

Read more about Pocket Living

Comments

20% cheaper, but 24% smaller, sounds like a good deal. obviously following the Cadbury / Mars etc formulae for increase by size change.

albert, 17 August 2017

Fantastic plan. Think we can do the same in Nigeria to solve the housing problem in Nigeria.

Philips Efem., 17 August 2017

I am all for micro living, or pocket living, or whatever it may be called; but the important aspect for me is convenience not the proverbial sardine packing. I congratulate Pocket Living with their efforts to solve the housing problem in the UK (at least in London). Our own scheme is 61 square meter Turlon home for £41,000 (less foundation and land costs). At least now everybody is thinking big to provide small homes for the young generation. Thank you guys! the pie is too big for all designers and builders, so more the merry!

Hal Luke Savas, 18 August 2017

Pocket Living are one of the few designers of micro flats who understand the key principle that you should not cook and sleep in the same space, and you need a bed ready made up, not one you have to assemble and disassemble daily.

Rosemary Slater, 21 August 2017

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