London's hidden new homes

A “Hidden Homes” scheme pioneered by Wandsworth council is spreading to other London boroughs and could create up to 10,000 much-needed new houses for the capital
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Empty or abandoned space on council estates, such as laundry rooms, store sheds and garages are being targeted. Even concrete subways are set to be redeveloped into family homes.

Some of the spaces will be sold privately, providing adventurous first-time buyers with an opportunity to get on the housing ladder. But most properties will be refurbish and let to families on the council’s waiting list. Wandsworth has already created 168 new homes this way and a further 24 are under construction.

“Creating high-quality homes from derelict or under-used premises is surprisingly quick and cost-effective, says Wandsworth councillor Martin Johnson. “It also helps get rid of dark, vacant areas that are a magnet for crime and anti-social behaviour.”

Southwark council, which reckons it can make £20 million a year in rents and sales this way, is to take up the idea next along with Harrow council.Southwark’s first project will be two four-bedroom family houses created from a former rent office and garages on the Astley Estate in Peckham.

Architects are being urged to come up with innovative designs for re-using “dead” spaces.

The family home of Clerkenwell-based architect Ken Mackay shows what can be done. Three years ago he bought a neglected estate office at Barbican and transformed it into a spectacular modern house worth at least £2 million today.

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