It’s no longer ‘buy to live’, it’s no longer ‘buy to let’, all bemoan the disgraceful era of ‘buy to leave’ – especially those living in RBK&C
This morning in The Guardian, novelist Vanessa Lafaye explained why she was packing up being a ‘buy to let’ property owner whilst three days ago the very same paper lamented that 1,652 properties in Kensington and Chelsea are unoccupied.
Highlighting an issue that is negatively impacts on communities, both stories illustrate that the glut of units bought simply to let out or leave to capitally appreciate is not, in the long-term, a good thing. It is all very well watching Homes Under The Hammer and dreaming of becoming wealthy by property speculation but given it has become overly accessible, one has to consider the consequences for young-priced-out-of-the-market buyers and on the shops, restaurants and other community facilities facing decline to an ever dwindling number of residents around them.
Whilst Labour wish to allow councils to charge a 300% empty-homes premium on properties that have been empty for more than a year, such a move would unlikely impact in the most expensive areas of Central London. In Brompton and Hans Town – wards of the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea that includes such landmarks as Harrods, Harvey Nichols and the Victoria and Albert Museum – there are currently at least 233 empty properties and 100 of those have been unoccupied for two years or longer. Given that many of these are offshore owned and simply money parks for very, very rich people, fiddling as Rome burns is not an option. It is time for radical action and time to force developers working in such areas such as Candy & Candy – the creators of the personification of vulgarity that is One Hyde Park, the biggest and most expensive virtually empty block in Britain – to build homes that actually are capable of housing local people.
Pictured top: One Hyde Park – a block of around 86 truly hideously ugly apartments where only 9 paid council tax to Westminster City Council in November 2011. At around that time, it was also revealed that 60 of the properties there were owned by anonymous companies.