South London ‘pocket flats’ will stop exodus of NHS staff, nurse says

A block of approved ‘pocket flats’ in south London will halt the exodus of NHS staff from the capital by allowing them property-wide access, a nurse has said.

Lambeth Council has approved the construction of 35 one-bedroom apartments by affordable housing developer Pocket Living on the site of a former bowling green in Streatham.

House hunters will be able to snap up Leigham Court Road apartments for 20% off market prices. Only people living or working in Lambeth will be able to buy them.

Aeron Suarez, a nurse at King’s College Hospital, said the cut-price flats were the only shot he had at the property ladder in London.

Speaking at a planning meeting on February 22, the 34-year-old said: ‘For an NHS worker like me it can take a long time to afford a house so I’ve been really excited when i heard about pocket living as a given opportunity for key workers. like me to enter the property ladder.

“With property prices as high as they are in the borough, being able to own one of the 35 20% discounted homes in Leigham Court Road is realistically the only way for me to owning a home close to my work and a community that I feel I belong to.

“People often say that if I want to buy a property I should leave London… but being close to my workplace, my friends… is very important for my personal growth and well-being.

“Key workers are the beating heart of Lambeth, but without proper accommodation you risk losing them.”

But Streatham resident Jennifer Dixon criticized the planned development, saying it was affordable in name only and would mean residents would lose green space. She said: “This development removes a community asset. This robs thousands of residents of the potential of open community space.

“The development is branded as truly affordable housing. It’s not. Sadiq Khan has abandoned this conservative definition of 80% of the market rate. They are not intended for families. They are for singles. They are aimed at the top 10% earners in the UK. Teachers, nurses, police officers cannot afford it. It’s not affordable.

The developer, Pocket Living, said the homes will give first-time local buyers the opportunity to move up the property ladder, when they might not otherwise be able to afford market prices. Prospective buyers must not own another property and the apartments will be available at 20% below market prices for the first six months of their listing.

Pocket Living said it has more than 1,000 people listed on its database interested in buying one of the homes. A listed building will be partially demolished to allow access to the planned accommodation.

Councilors approved the apartments by majority vote at a planning meeting on February 22.

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